Interim Manager Provides Valuable Help to Hospital Laboratory

Mid Coast Hospital (MCH) began experiencing increased demand for their services immediately after moving into their new building. With more physicians joining the staff and growth in outpatient services, the laboratory was required to handle a quickly swelling volume. The challenge of maintaining quality care during this period was coupled with the opportunity to evaluate and reorganize responsibilities in the laboratory. MCH used an innovative approach to accomplish all their goals.

Following the move from MCH's old facility and opening of their new building, the huge demand for new and more laboratory services prompted the need to find someone with a blend of knowledge and experience to provide management support during this period. This was a challenge. Utilizing this person's expertise in the laboratory was the opportunity. How to meet both was the situation facing Coleen Farrell, Human Resources Manager of MCH, a Maine Hospital Association (MHA) member.

According to Farrell, the increases heralded a sequence of events within the busy laboratory department and she quickly determined that the staff and the Hospital would benefit from the assistance of an experienced consultant. "We had part of a CAP survey data due, were making plans to implement a point of care computer system and dealing with large volumes. It was a very difficult period for the laboratory staff," Farrell explains.

The laboratory conducts hundreds of thousands of tests annually. MCH, Maine's newest Hospital, has 500 employees and is one of Brunswick's major employers. The 74-bed Hospital has a population of approximately 90,000 in their catchment area, and approximately 130 physicians on their medical staff.

Farrell turned to the Nielsen Healthcare Group, (NHG), one of the oldest, largest and most respected firms specializing in providing interim managers to the health care field, for assistance.

NHG is a preferred provider for MHA's Shared Services Affiliate, Associated Health Resources, Inc (AHR). Farrell provided NHG with the requirements for an Interim Laboratory Director. NHG researched all of the pertinent facts to ensure that the candidates presented to MCH would be a suitable match for the complexity and demands required by the assignment. Nielsen's forwarded the credentials of candidates to Farrell from their network of more than 10,000 experienced health care executives and managers.

NHG candidates are presented to clients by resume, written references and, when possible, a videotaped presentation which describes the candidates' qualifications, experience, management style and accomplishments. Farrell reports she conducted phone interviews, made her choice, and the Interim Laboratory Director was on the job within a couple of weeks of the request.

Using an interim from NHG was very helpful in giving MCH the ability to enhance the department's efficiency. According to Farrell, it also significantly eased the path when a permanent director took over. "It was a worthwhile venture. The interim gave us some valuable help," she concludes. Farrell says she was satisfied with the service, would use NHG again if the need arose and would recommend Nielsen's to others.

The availability of interim healthcare managers can provide an important option for providers. In addition to providing consulting expertise (without a consultant's overhead) in a hands-on manager, interim managers from NHG can:

  • allow for an unhurried search for a permanent replacement;
  • provide support for a short-term need such as JCAHO preparation;
  • help bring a new project or service on-line;
Thanks to a contractual agreement between AHR and NHG, members are eligible for an 8 per cent discount on this service. For additional information, contact Bruce Nielsen, President, at the Nielsen Healthcare Group, 20 Allen Ave., Suite 330, St. Louis, MO 63119; e-mail; phone 314-984-0910; toll-free 800-581-8901, fax 314-984-0820. When calling, please reference you are a member of AHR.