Maggie Koehler is well prepared when she walks into a meeting.
"When Maggie calls
a meeting," says Mary Cummings, general counsel for the Wyoming Valley Health Care
System in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., "you know you're not going to waste time."
Koehler is certainly ready when she sits down to negotiate. One of her early
responsibilities with the system was negotiating managed-care contracts. After two
insurers announced they were exiting the Wilkes-Barre market while Wyoming Valley
was in negotiations, "The running joke for a while was, `Let Maggie negotiate and
then they'll leave,' " Koehler says. She adds: "A lot of insurers have a
take-it-or-leave-it attitude. We weren't about to do that."
In June, Koehler, 40,
became chief financial officer and senior vice president of the system, which
includes an acute-care and a behavioral health hospital. Cummings, who's seen
Koehler's negotiating style firsthand, says Koehler was an obvious choice for the
system's CFO position.
William Host, the system's president and chief executive
officer, says Koehler's negotiating skills were one reason she was selected for the
job. She meticulously prepares for negotiating "to the sadness of the people she's
negotiating with," he says.
Recently, she helped win a wage-index appeal, which
will give the system access to an additional $3 million in Medicare reimbursements
annually, Host says. Koehler also played a significant role in negotiating an $11
million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that's been used for
interconnectivity technology that helps Wyoming Valley's facilities communicate
with other hospitals.
Soon after Koehler joined Wyoming Valley in 1995 as the
director of managed-care services, tumultuous times started. The system, which had
an operating loss of $25 million in its fiscal 1999, hired the turnaround firm
Hunter Group. About 800 full- and part-time jobs were eliminated as part of its
remedial plan, but Koehler's responsibilities increased as she was promoted to the
administrative director of managed-care and physician services, and eventually vice
president of planning and development, the position she held until June.
the time Koehler worked in the system's managed-care services, she helped collect
more than $1.8 million in 5-year-old account receivables, a significant reduction,
In fiscal 2003, the system suffered a net loss of $8.5 million, but it
posted net income of about $3 million in fiscal 2004. Some of the loss in 2003 was
attributed to charges related to a nursing strike, Host says.
"Things are getting
better," Koehler says.