By BEN MITCHELL
He's been a familiar face at Skyline Hospital since the start of the 2000s, but Skyline Hospital CEO Mike Madden recently announced that he'll be retiring from the position come January. The Enterprise
talked with Madden to see what's next for him... and Skyline Hospital.
First off, could you tell us a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you went to school, what got you interested in medicine, etc.? When did you come to Skyline Hospital and why?
I was raised in Elko, Nev., and dreamed of playing professional basketball -- wasn't that good. Went to college at BYU Idaho on a basketball scholarship, determined to teach math and coach high school basketball. Went on to BYU and got degrees in math and computer science. Through a computer class, I got a job at Utah Valley Hospital in Provo, Utah to write software for a hospital information system. I moved to Long Beach, Calif., to write another computerized system for Long Beach Community Hospital. I moved to Las Vegas, Nev., and did it again. I was contacted by Intermountain Healthcare System to be the CFO for five rural hospitals. I was offered the opportunity to be a CEO for a hospital in Fallon, Nev. then moved to Reno, Nev., to operate a rural hospital system for Washoe Medical Center. I was then recruited to take the CEO position at a hospital in Aberdeen. While on sabbatical to spend time with my mother who was dying of cancer in Elko, I was recruited by Skyline in February 2000.
How has Skyline Hospital changed over the years, particularly since your arrival?
Since February 2000 the services at Skyline have increased dramatically. Our laboratory went from a stat lab offering very few lab tests directly as we sent most tests to Hood River and Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles. We now are one of the best-equipped labs in the area and have much more capability than most small hospitals in the country. We upgraded the two imaging modalities that were operating in 2000 from analog or film X-ray and mammography to digital X-ray and mammography. We added the first CT scanner and then upgraded it to a 64-slice CT, the most powerful in the Gorge. We added ultrasound and bone density scanning. The Electronic Health Record has been added and our communication of patient information between the hospital and the clinic has been automated. Physical therapy has increased from one therapist to four full-time therapists. The new patient wing was a colossal achievement. We upgraded the ambulance service from a basic, part-time service to an Advanced Life Support, full-time system with two fully staffed ambulances, 24/7. We began specialty clinics for orthopedics, cardiology. OB/GYN, podiatry and travel/immunology.
What do you feel has been your greatest accomplishment during your time at Skyline? What has been your biggest challenge or frustration?
Undoubtedly the greatest accomplishment would be the new patient wing of the hospital. In difficult financial times, we were able to secure financing to replace the aged facility that the State had told us we needed to replace to remain licensed to stay in business. The biggest frustration has been the inability to maintain obstetric services. The biggest challenge has been to keep the hospital operation financially viable.
What did you like most about the position? What is one of your favorite memories? What will you miss most... and least?
I have always enjoyed working with people who sacrifice to serve others. Healthcare is all about caring for our friends and neighbors. One of my favorite memories was being asked by the CT manufacturer if I would accept a 64-slice CT for the price of the refurbished 32-slice scanner that we had ordered. I will miss the daily challenges of managing a sophisticated operation that a hospital is on a daily basis. I won't miss the challenge of managing a sophisticated operation like a hospital.
OK, the big question: why did you decide to retire? Is it something you've been thinking about for a while or did this come about recently?
I decided to retire because I will be 71 years old in three months and it is time for new blood. I made the decision to retire at 71 because the IRS begins taxing 401Ks at that point if you don't begin drawing some out and paying taxes on it.
Has your replacement been picked yet?
The Board has chosen a replacement that will start on Jan. 14, 2013. I will move into a consultant roll until my official retirement on March 31. The new CEO will be Rob Kimmes who is moving here from upstate New York where he has been managing a small hospital in the Adirondack Mountains.
How do you plan to spend your retirement? Do have family here and plan on spending time with them? Or will you be off having adventures? Or both?
I plan on spending time with family in Texas, Kansas and now in Oregon. We plan at least one cross-country roadtrip and the big adventure will be for my wife and me to go on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day-Saints. We may go to Sweden where I served form 1960-1964, or we may go do genealogy work. I have discovered that I had numerous ancestors that served in the Revolutionary War.
How do you feel about the current state of the hospital? What will be the challenges facing your successor?
The current state of the hospital is not as good as it has been for the past 10 years due to the overall economy and changes in reimbursement. The future for small critical access hospitals looks rather bleak under the current direction of healthcare reform. I only hope that continued grassroot efforts of rural communities and residents will enable rural hospitals to continue to exist.