San Joaquin General Hospital is On a Secure Path

Hospital    By Rhashad R. Pittman

Whether it’s helping deliver new babies into the world, or performing life-saving surgery on patients, San Joaquin General Hospital is in a position to do more than ever for residents of San Joaquin County. The Hospital is positioning itself to address the future healthcare of the growing Spanish language population in San Joaquin County.
In past years, the county hospital was struggling to support itself. with the addition and management under David Culberson C.E.O., the hospital has been able to significantly increase its ability to supply the needs of local residents on a strong path for future medical stability.
Having stronger financial stability has allowed the general acute care facility to treat far more patients, including those who are among the lowest of income earners. It also has led to an effort to hire more Spanish-speaking doctors and other staff, both necessities for the region.
“We’re making a huge difference in the lives of people,” said David Culberson, Chief Executive Officer of San Joaquin General Hospital. “And any time you can do that, it’s a good day at work.”
San Joaquin General provides a variety of services, including general medical/surgical care, high-risk obstetrics and neonatal intensive care, and pediatrics and intensive care. It also serves as a designated trauma and stroke center with physicians and surgeons on staff 24 hours per day, seven days a week.
Besides the 196-bed facility at 500 W. Hospital Rd., in French Camp, San Joaquin General also has Primary Care and Specialty clinics that provide outpatient services to 134,000 patients each year, including the San Joaquin General’s California Street Clinic, at 1414 N. California St., in Stockton.
In addition to providing health care, San Joaquin general is launching new campaigns to help spread the word about preventative measures people can take to ensure they stay healthy and prevent illnesses such as diabetes and strokes, and informing them about safe activities to avoid trauma and injuries.  Their Spring 2015 campaign features a testimonial from former NASA astronaut and local businessman Jose Hernandez, who was born at the Hospital.
Before becoming the permanent CEO at San Joaquin General in May 2011, Culberson served in the role as interim CEO. Prior to that, he was interim CEO at Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield and also throughout his career served in top management at three additional hospitals in Orange County.
Financial Turnaround
Soon after arriving at San Joaquin General, Culberson began to put his MBA from Southern Methodist University at work to guide the hospital out of the red as it struggled financially. His first priority was to guide the hospital in operations and provide strategic options to maximize productivity.
After some time, he was able to prevent the hospital from losing money each year as it has in the past. Doing so allowed the hospital to hire additional physicians and open more clinical sites throughout San Joaquin County to ensure more patients are able to receive quality care.
Culberson attributed some of the financial turnaround of the hospital to funding provided by the new Affordable Health Care Act. Because of the new Federal funding, the hospital was able to add 50% more doctors, allowing more patients to be served. In addition, the Affordable Health Care Act also provides reimbursements to the hospital for services to patients who cannot afford to pay for them.
The Health Plan of San Joaquin County and Medi-Cal programs also were vital in the hospital becoming financially stable due to a significant increase in enrollment, Culberson said. As a result, San Joaquin General treats as many as 350 patients in their outpatient clinics every day.
Due to the increase in financial performance, the hospital will also move forward with plans to build on their trauma center to a level 2 status and expand its orthopedics and gastroenterology services.
Latino Physicians
San Joaquin General has a growing number of Latino physicians on board and is striving to get more, particularly those who are Spanish speaking. The hospital actively recruits Latino medical students to join their post-graduate residency programs in general surgery, internal medicine, and family practice.  “We are constantly trying to make sure we get Latinos to fill those spots,” Culberson said.
Culberson said the hospital has put aside marketing dollars for bilingual marketing and signage efforts to improve communication with Spanish-speaking patients. Hospital administrators have also placed an emphasis on hiring more local, Latino physicians and bilingual staff in general, particularly in the call center.
“We want to make sure we meet patients’ expectations with quality, timeliness, and customer service, with medical staff members that our patients can communicate with, and identify with ” Culberson said. “Healthcare is a people business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *