For a financial professional, non-profit healthcare is an extremely challenging field. As Baby Boomers age, a greater portion of the population is requiring treatment and services, and there is less reimbursement for hospitals due to shrinking federal funding. What's more, costs have increased due to advancements in expensive technology. The financial challenges of healthcare are daunting, but for John Liston, there is no better field to use his skills. "You kind of get absorbed in this industry (healthcare)," says John. "In the finance field, there are a lot of positions that pay better, or you have more resources and capital to work with, but in healthcare you have the satisfaction of knowing you're contributing to people's lives."
That philosophy brought John to Port Huron Hospital and the particular challenges of working in an independent, community-based hospital. "Part of the reason I came here was I wanted to work in an independent hospital. In larger settings, I felt a lot of discussion was on the corporate level - you get stuck that it's always about dollars, dollars, dollars. In this environment (at Port Huron Hospital), I'm certainly concerned with the bottom line, but there's also the contribution of what you see, what you feel - what your gut tells you about what's right," says John.
As part of our management philosophy, the members of the executive staff make rounds to all areas of the hospital on a weekly basis. "For me, it's an opportunity to put faces to the facts and figures. It keeps us all on a realistic level with what we all do here," says John. This practice of "making the rounds" at Port Huron Hospital fits a personal connection John made years ago when he solidified the distinction between facts on paper and the people behind the facts. "At one point I was in a position (at another hospital) where I oversaw clinical areas. Of course, with my education and background I was always concerned with the bottom line. During a meeting I noticed - on paper - that we should probably move a patient to another type of facility because it wasn't financially responsible to keep him. I talked to the clinical staff and was told to move him would be detrimental for the patient and his family. I went and saw him for myself and realized they were right. You can't make all decisions on paper. As it turns out, the patient died peacefully within 24 hours. It changed my perspective forever."