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Steven Brown Leads Mount Nittany Medical Center Into the Future

by on November 19, 2012 7:26 AM

Few local leaders have more impact on the quality of life in Centre County than Steven Brown, President and CEO of the Mount Nittany Medical Center. Since his arrival in the region, Brown has overseen the unprecedented growth of the region’s single most important healthcare provider.

While many of the projects were already in the planning stages, it was Brown’s vision and leadership that has seen the growth through to fruition. It may be a case of the right leader emerging at the right time.

“I have been here two-and-a-half years. The vision for Mount Nittany Medical Center was in place. But I felt it was important that we get moving, do something with the many gifts provided by the community.”

Brown explained that he encouraged the Medical Center board to take on all the projects at one time, rather than in phases.

“We were able to save by mobilizing and getting it all done at once,” he said. “After we expand to five operating rooms, I think we’re going to take a breath.”

In the past few years, Brown has overseen the creation and growth of a long list of facility improvements. These include:

  • A Cancer Center
  • A three-story, expanded and separately housed Information Technology department.
  • An Emergency Room, renovated to meet future needs.
  • A new, welcoming patient entrance, separated from the emergency room
  • Creating a basic care unit for those who don’t need emergency care.
  • 165 new parking spaces.
  • Expanding to five operating rooms with the capability to add five more.

“We have built what the community needs here,” Brown said. “This is a special place. I look at everything we do as earning the trust of the communities we serve. That’ a pretty big deal.”

Brown noted that because the MNMC employs about 2,000 individuals, it is a major contributor to the economic development of the region. He places a great deal of emphasis on customer service.

“We are people helping people,” he said. “We really are taking care of our friends and neighbors. So we are in the people business. That’s why care here is so personal. Our people care about their patients, and that’s a big deal. Our staff cares about you, not just for you.”

While there has been tremendous growth and expansion at Mount Nittany Medical Center, Brown believes there is still a perception, in the minds of some, that better care can be found elsewhere, at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville and Penn State Hershey Medical Center, to name a few.

“I chalk that up to experience and culture,” Brown said. “We are working hard to change that perception. This is where you should come. I would like to see helicopters coming to us, instead of taking (patients) away. Our partnership with Penn State id helping us immensely.”

Brown believes that by listening carefully to the community, the Mount Nittany Medical Center will continue to grow and improve.

“What we want to do is cut costs, especially for people who are in and out. I think the community is really going to like that. My philosophy is to stay ahead of the curve.”

Big changes are in the offing for the healthcare industry, once The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is fully implemented.

“There is a lot of good (in the bill) and a lot of bad,” Brown stated. “I like the wellness and prevention programs and penalties for people with bad outcomes. But in 2014 we are going to be reimbursed differently than now. And how are they going to pay for this care? The fact is they did take money out of Medicare and will take it out of Medicaid.”

There is no question that there are going to be changes in the way hospitals are reimbursed for services and how they will be evaluated, including the auditing of their Medicare billings. Additional regulations will mean additional costs.

And what about the rationing of healthcare? “Other countries ration healthcare,” Brown said. “It’s not a good thing. United States healthcare is great. If you want to wait months for a gall bladder operation, be my guest. There is no such thing as free healthcare.”

Brown worked in Seattle for eight years and found that many Canadians came down for healthcare.

Looking toward the future, Brown believes the greatest challenge facing the Mount Nittany Medical Center is increased regulation. “And we must continue to thrive in the face of that. Many doctors will bail out. That’s why they want to work for hospitals. Family practices will be hurt most. Our biggest opportunity is going to be found in working together. We are next to the largest employer in the Commonwealth. Our relationship with Penn State is very exciting to me. Working with a medical school helps us on the way to my vision of becoming the most trusted teaching hospital in the region. This is truly a wonderful place.”

Harry is a correspondent for the Gazette.
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