Business Perspective: Providence Health & Services


Interview with Cindy Mayo,
CEO, Providence Medford  

Interview conducted August 8, 2014 by Katharine Flanagan, VCB and Marketing Director, Ashland Chamber of Commerce, with contributions from James Watson, Providence Marketing Director.

ProvCindyMayoWhat are your views on the healthcare industry in the Rogue Valley and Ashland? 

My background is not as an executive, but as a clinician. I practiced as a nurse in Sacramento, San Diego and a small community in Washington before moving into leadership.

Providence is focused on how we take care of our community, care for the people of our community and our community as a whole.  Our commitment is to our community. 

A hospital, historically, plays a small part in the span in person’s life. Most people will spend perhaps five to 10 days in a hospital throughout their life. In the past, the focus has been on hospital walls, the bricks and mortar, all of which are expensive. We have to change that focus.

Our goal at Providence is to provide the best quality care for those who live in the community. We want quality care inside the hospital and a healthy population outside the hospital.

Providing efficient healthcare and watching costs are important. Outside our walls, we have clinics in multiple areas. Providence has rehabilitation and therapy centers around the Rogue Valley as well as a physician focus in Ashland. How do we keep the community healthy for the long run? We need to improve the healthcare for the people in the community.  We provide great care here, and take good care of the people that trust us with their lives, in addition the broader community as a whole.   We provide safe, quality care. 

Can you tell us about Providence’s growing presence in Ashland? 

We have a few wonderful physicians who have historically been in Ashland and have joined Providence.  They are incredible physicians.  I think the level of care they provide for their patients in the community is very high.  I think we chose each other because of shared values and our desire to provide great care. 

We also offer through the clinic a variety of practices such as cardiology, physical medicine, neurology, and OB/GYN physicians.  For example, our surgery clinic streamlines the process for patients. If somebody has surgery at Providence, they can then do pre- and post-surgery visits in Ashland. That eliminates the need additional drives to Medford and makes recovery that much easier. We are working to provide resources the community needs.

What do you see that is unique to the needs of Ashland/Rogue Valley? 

We know there are unmet healthcare needs and access to healthcare is an issue throughout the Rogue Valley.  Providence has done a great job providing access to patients with Oregon Health Plan, CCOs and the uninsured.  We’re working to continue that success, as well as make access to services even easier for all patients, insured or not. That’s why we’ve expanded our specialty services in Ashland.

How healthy do you think the population is of the Rogue Valley and specifically Ashland? 

Providence, along with several agencies and organizations, recently did a community health needs assessment. Among those taking part was the mayor of Ashland.  We looked at the community’s unmet needs, including mental and behavioral health, addiction and dental issues.  We found there are a lot of opportunities to help. 
We look at ways, outside our core expertise, to work with those who provide support and those services.  We do this through grants, organizations, outreach and resources with other entities. 

As the new CEO after a year what would you like to ask the residents of Ashland?

Providence wants to be community partners and find ways to create healthier communities, together. 

For example, we sponsored the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market here and collaborated with that group.  We recognize many of the families that have food stamps have a hard time buying fresh fruit and vegetables because they’re both expensive and take time to prepare.  That’s why we set up a matching program for SNAP recipients. We matched up to four dollars so recipients could stretch their budget.
I’d like the community to know we provide excellent hospital care, but we’re also focusing our practices on preventative and community based healthcare and support.
You’ll notice we’re reaching out to many partners, such as the Talent Harvest Festival on Oct. 4, 2014. We’re picking up the major sponsorship this year because this festival is a great way to get people outside, talking to each other, eating healthy food and learning about the programs around them.  Instead of focusing on our hospital, we are looking to activities outside in the community to strengthen our partnerships and be a healthy example. 

We’d like to change the perception of how we stay healthy as a community. It is a generational journey and going to take a lot of time, but it is the right thing to do. That’s why we’re also supporting children’s activities such as the Rogue Valley Timbers Soccer League.  

At Providence, the focus isn’t about big billboards or saying we are the best or we got this award. It is about how do we deliver the health care to our community and support health lifestyles. 

What are the challenges you see or the opportunities in healthcare?

I will call it an opportunity. There is an opportunity with the Medicaid expansion to provide access to healthcare to those who have not had it before. So the unique opportunity is how do we teach them, how do we coach them, how do we help them learn healthy lifestyles, where they may not have had that model before.

Our ED Guide is a great program, for example.  We have had hundreds of patients in our emergency room suffering everything from ear aches to colds to a tooth pain. The patients are hurting, but a lot of them don’t know that the emergency room isn’t the best place for them. Now, we’ll take care of them and get them feeling better, but we’ll also guide them to the best places for care in the future. Our ED Guide, Alicia Tyler, is wonderful. She actually coaches families and patients, saying ‘how do we keep you healthy and get you connected to a doctor’s office or a clinic?’ We facilitate that patient getting connected to a provider.  We will then work with that patient and work with them over time.  

Of course, people say, ‘Cindy, why don’t you want patients in your emergency department?’  We know it’s not always the best place to serve people. We need to get them into a clinic or a practice that will see them over time.  When our emergency department numbers go down, then we are doing a good job in helping them to stay healthier. 

What sets Providence apart or makes it unique to the valley in terms of services?  

I would say that the underpinnings of our core strategy – ‘Creating healthier communities, together’ - are our values: respect, compassion, justice, excellence and stewardship.   Providence is a Catholic organization. I am not personally Catholic, but I love working for Providence so much, that I transferred from one Providence establishment to another because I believe in those values.  Those are the things we ask ourselves; is this compassionate behavior? Are we providing excellence in whatever we are providing? For justice, not meaning legal, but rather is it just?  Is it the right thing to do in this community with these patients? 

What is different about us, I believe, is that we believe in those values and we live them.  Having worked at a different Catholic organization before in California, I would say we never talked about what our values meant to us. Here at Providence, we talk about those values and how we use them when we work.  And here we talk about our mission; the Sisters’ mission is to care for the poor and the vulnerable.  When I talk about that in new caregiver orientation, I talk about people who don’t have money being vulnerable.  I tell my caregivers that when someone is laying on a gurney or comes in for a medical exam, they are also vulnerable.  So how do we care for those who trust us to care for them? 

We make the decision that is right for the patient, rather than focusing on the money. So we do a great deal of community benefit dollars, meaning that we aren’t compensated for a lot of our work. I look at the bigger lens and the whole package. There are some patients who have no money at all and not all insurance covers the services they need, but the big picture is that they are part of the community. And I really feel very privileged to have the opportunity to do that.

Thank you for asking to interview me. The message to the community and to Ashland is that we’d like them to look at us and seek us out as partners in helping them become healthier and to care for them along their life journey. 

Providence Health & Services

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