When Frank Molinaro took over as chief executive officer of Putnam General Hospital in May 2002, he knowingly inherited an unhealthy mess. Morale was low and local residents of Hurricane, W.Va., often traveled elsewhere for healthcare needs.
"The hospital didn't have the greatest reputation for patient satisfaction," he says. "Probably the biggest thing we've done in the past 15 months is to build a positive, cooperative relationship between patients and doctors and staff."
FharvardMolinaro, 39, and his top managers focused heavily on patient satisfaction, with the CEO himself delivering flowers to new patients on their day of arrival. "It sends a message that I care," he says. "It also lets me know where our problems are. ... All of our growth, as far as revenue and volume, is related to what we did as far as satisfaction."
Earnings for the 68-bed facility were $1.4 million in 2002, up 32% compared with the previous year. The growth has helped prompt doctors who had held joint appointments elsewhere to affiliate themselves solely with Putnam, says Molinaro, who previously worked as vice president and chief operating officer at Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla.
Also, Putnam is planning to expand in the coming months, having recently received state approval to build a $32 million expansion with 12 additional beds that will include a new operating suite along with critical-care and nursing units, he says.
To bolster staff morale, Molinaro has begun an employee recognition program that ties patient-satisfaction scores to raises, up to $1,700. "We're not going to be a hospital that has the latest technology or open hearts or anything," he says. "We're going to be the hospital with the best service."
Since Molinaro arrived from Memorial, 16 people-about 80% of the management team-have left, about half were fired, Molinaro says. "A lot of people were feeling like they didn't want to go where we needed to go," he says. Lance Carney, pharmacy director at Putnam, says Molinaro demands a lot but also rewards those who produce. "He made it clear when he came that we were going to have to work hard."
Molinaro, who holds a master's degree in business administration from Franciscan University of Steubenville (Ohio), learned his hard-charging style in part from Wayne Campbell, CEO of Fort Walton Beach (Fla.) Medical Center, where Molinaro worked as COO from 1997 to 2000. "I said, `I can't give you an MBA, but I can give you an MBWA because my style is management by walking around,' " Campbell says. "I get here at 6 o'clock every day, and I said, `I want you to be here at 5: 30.' And he did."