09/05/2013 - 10:33

Bethesda on front foot, plans expansion

09/05/2013 - 10:33


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Bethesda on front foot, plans expansion
PLANNING: Yasmin Naglazas says the Claremont hospital needs to leverage off its points of difference as a smaller operation

Privately owned Bethesda Hospital is starting to plan for its next expansion, after regaining outright ownership of its Claremont property and overcoming a period of financial challenges.

Chief executive Yasmin Naglazas said she had a master plan for an expansion on the hospital’s prime riverfront property at Claremont but work was still being done to determine the hospital’s optimum size.

“Our board and executive are looking at that, it’s probably a little bit bigger than what we are at the moment,” Professor Naglazas said.

While planning to make the 88-bed hospital a little larger, she said Bethesda was keen to retain the advantages in its small size.

“We need to leverage off our points of difference as a smaller operation,” she said, referring to factors such as patient satisfaction and its flat management structure.

Professor Naglazas said the hospital was still working to achieve a sustainable business model.

“I think we’ve got the elements and the foundations of it but there is more to do,” she said.

The current situation contrasts with the difficulties that arose in 2007, when a cost blowout on the hospital’s last big expansion, which ended up costing nearly $20 million, resulted in Bethesda being bailed out by aged-care provider Bethanie.

Both organisations had their origins in the Churches of Christ and used to share common directors but now have separate boards.

Regaining outright ownership of the hospital was a major milestone.

“The turnaround was sufficient for that to happen,” she said.

However, it also required Bethesda to take on extra debt and Professor Naglazas said the not-for-profit group’s debt load and access to capital were key challenges.

“If we want to go to that next level of growth, that will require access to capital and that will be one of our challenges going forward,” she said.

With annual turnover of $32 million, Professor Naglazas said the group was on track for another small operating surplus this financial year, giving it some capacity to invest in new infrastructure and equipment.

Professor Naglazas said one factor in the hospital’s improved performance was its partnership with surgeons.

“Getting a really good relationship with the surgeons is so critical, they bring the business in,” she said.

“They are very interested in talking about what they can do and what we can do.”

A national survey of private hospitals has shown the lift in Bethesda’s performance.

Bethesda’s doctor satisfaction rating has risen from the 37th percentile to the 84th percentile.

It also achieved higher satisfaction for patients (84th percentile) and staff (80th percentile).

“That’s really important, having your three key customers satisfied with the business, but all this was done in an environment where we were chipping away at efficiencies and productivity.

“That’s why we think it’s pretty good, “You can throw a lot of money at it, but we did it on a shoestring, and we were also making the business more efficient.”










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