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Business Observer Friday, Jan. 5, 2018 4 years ago

Raving Fans

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One of the largest health care organizations in Florida goes into the new year with a new top executive at the helm for the first time since 1999.
by: Beth Luberecki Contributing Writer

Why it Matters: Dr. Larry Antonucci succeeded longtime top executive Jim Nathan as president and CEO of Lee Health in May. The nonprofit is one of the largest public health systems in Florida, with 1,426 beds spread through four acute care hospitals and two specialty hospitals, more than 1 million patient contacts a year, 13,000 employees and 4,500 volunteers.

After serving as COO for six years, Dr. Lawrence Antonucci was named president and CEO of Lee Health in June 2017. He spoke with the Business Observer in December about his goals for 2018 and the challenges the health care system must overcome to meet them.

What are your key goals for Lee Health for 2018?

We're really focusing on the patient experience, excellent clinical outcomes, coordinated care and continued financial viability. On the patient experience side, we're doing a lot of training about what's the difference between being satisfied and being wowed, the difference between being happy with the service and creating a level of loyalty where people really want to be part of your system.

For clinical excellence, our mantra is zero harm. When you look at what happens to folks in hospitals, occasionally they can be harmed by getting an infection they didn't come in with. We're focusing in a big way on reducing that to zero, and we've made incredible strides.

In the area of clinical coordination, we're working with our population health officer to really begin looking at devising a delivery system that designs care for a population rather than just for intervals of care like a hip replacement, to really look at our defined population and what we can do to keep those patients healthy and maximize their lives as they move forward. That could involve putting clinics in underserved areas like Dunbar or North Fort Myers, wellness programs and dietary consultation. And on financial viability, it's continued diligence in trying to keep our costs down while delivering high quality.

What are the biggest obstacles or challenges to accomplishing those goals?

The challenge really is in changing a culture that has been built over decades to deliver care in a certain way. What I mean by that is we're evolving from a system that delivered care by the number of things they did, to a system where we're delivering care in a way that maximizes health.

It's about breaking the silos down and breaking down old habits so that people now look at health care delivery in a different way. We're also operating in an era of declining reimbursements, so we constantly have to try to stay ahead of the game in efficiency and productivity to overcome those financial challenges.

What's coming online for Lee Health in 2018 in terms of new facilities or offerings for patients?

[Lee Health—Coconut Point] is a very exciting project. It's going to be a state-of-the-art facility [which will include a 24-hour emergency department, surgery center, diagnostic imaging, laboratory, pharmacy, breast health center, cardiac testing, rehabilitation services, and medical offices]. And we're building on a chassis that could support a bed tower at some point if we were to get approval from the state. We are really committed to south Lee County. We're committed to that area to do whatever we can to provide care. We're very excited about that opening toward the end of 2018. We're also expanding our services at Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida, and we just began a program to handle pediatric burn cases.

Lee Health is also discussing a deal to become the sole medical provider at Babcock Ranch. Why is that something that's attractive to Lee Health?

We've had some preliminary conversations with them about providing both medical office coverage along with the management of their wellness center. We're in discussions. What Babcock Ranch is doing fits in beautifully with our concept of health and wellness and being more than just a repair center. They're really building this community around an outdoor, healthy lifestyle, so it fits in very nicely with our concept of how you care for an entire population and keep them well.

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