“She has been a voice of reason on the board,” says Vista, Calif., Mayor Judy Ritter. The hospital, which has grown to 330 beds and has annual net revenue of about $400 million, serves north suburban San Diego County, including Vista, Oceanside and Carlsbad.
For her accomplishments, Reno has been selected as the Trustee of the Year for a large hospital.
Reno's commitment was put to the test in 2008 when the hospital was beset with problems. Scripps Health purchased Sharp Mission Park, a 65-physician medical practice, which represented 30% of the hospital's primary-care physicians. Meanwhile, the interest rate on the hospital's $73.9 million bond debt, which was set at weekly auction, soared as high as 18% after the financial markets collapsed that year, costing the hospital more than $1 million a month. In addition, the hospital had not complied with California's seismic safety standards.
Given the situation, some vocal members of the medical staff wanted the board to sell Tri-City to a private health system.
Not on Reno's watch. At a meeting in December 2008, she convinced the board to put Tri-City's eight-member executive team on administrative leave and launch an investigation into the hospital's financial condition, Reno says.
“I felt that, by God, what have a got to lose? I am going to stick my neck out there, and I am going to pursue this to the end. I am going to save this hospital,” Reno recalls.
In January 2009, the board hired Larry Anderson as interim CEO, making his position permanent in July 2009. Meanwhile, Anderson—who formerly was president and founder of Integrated Healthcare Holdings, a four-hospital chain in Santa Ana, Calif.—fired the previous administrative team in April 2009. “There were major issues that should have been dealt with by the executive staff that were not dealt with,” Anderson says.
Anderson addressed the problems systematically, which led to a $16 million profit, or excess of revenue over expenses, in fiscal 2011, ended June 30, and an $8 million profit in fiscal 2012, up from a $5 million loss in 2009 and a $11.2 million loss in 2010.