Top 25 Emerging Leaders
Debra Sukin has nurtured St. Luke’s Community Medical Center-The Woodlands in Texas since the very beginning.
In October 2002, as the hospital’s chief operating officer, she was part of a three-person executive team—which also included the chief executive officer and chief nursing officer—that managed service development and hiring leading up to the opening in March 2003. Sukin also managed construction of the new facility.
Sukin has “an infectious enthusiasm for her work and a very high level of intellectual ability,” says David Fine, president and CEO of the parent organization, St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System in Houston.
In February 2006, Fine promoted Sukin to CEO of the 91-bed suburban medical center in The Woodlands and vice president of the health system.
Since St. Luke’s Community Medical Center opened, Sukin has worked diligently to foster improvement in financial performance and respond to growth.
For example, she oversaw a reduction in bad debt. The hospital’s bad debt had been as high as 22% of monthly net revenue soon after opening in 2003, but had dropped to 12% by January 2005 and 10% in 2007. The dramatic decrease occurred as a result of improved collection of copayments, deductibles and account balances as well as better identification of patients for the hospital’s charity-care program. St. Luke’s also switched collection agencies.
Sukin also made sure that managers of patient registration areas, such as in the emergency department and same-day surgery, had access to daily and monthly reports on collections. The data, which are pulled from the patient-charge information system, allows managers to track actual performance against goals.
“There is not one magic bullet,” Sukin says. “It is a combination of things.”
In 2006, the hospital reported a net loss of $3.5 million on operations and gross revenue of $256.3 million. Sukin projects much better performance for the hospital in 2007: more than $4 million in net operating income on gross revenue of $295 million.
Sukin also has taken steps in light of the organization’s growth. Because the hospital typically operates at capacity, St. Luke’s is in the midst of a number of expansion projects, including:
- Two $4.5 million, 12,000-square-foot urgent-care centers—one opening in October in The Woodlands and second opening March 2008 in North Houston.
- A $22 million, 91-bed, inpatient tower expected to open in fall 2008 on The Woodlands campus.