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    November 03, 2021

    MarinHealth CEO talks expansion to Napa, Sonoma counties, growth of outpatient mental health

    CHERYL SARFATY
    THE NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL
    November 3, 2021, 9:49AM

    When Dr. David Klein on Sept. 1, 2020, assumed the role of CEO at MarinHealth, his 30-plus years working in health care served him well as he entered a new organization during the throes of the pandemic.

    The Business Journal first interviewed Klein about a month after he started at MarinHealth. At the time, like most hospitals, MarinHealth faced significant challenges because of the pandemic. By the end of 2020, overall admissions, emergency department visits, births and surgeries had experienced double-digit declines. The hospital saw a $43 million reduction in patient-care revenues related to that volume loss, Klein stated earlier this year.

    Klein was as prepared as any veteran leader of a health care system might be in unprecedented circumstances. He came to MarinHealth from Dignity Health, where he served as president and CEO of its two San Francisco-based hospitals: Saint Francis Memorial Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center.

    And notably, as Klein said last year, he has experienced health care from every angle: “I have seen it as a patient. I've seen it as a father of a sick child. I've seen it as a practitioner, and now as an administrator. I really believe that gives me a very broad view of the health care landscape.”

    A Marin County resident and father of three, Klein comes across as a warm, mild-mannered person who is focused but also carves out time — mostly on Saturdays — to enjoy the outdoors, where he likes to bike, hike and play golf.

    Last week, the Business Journal reconnected with Klein to discuss his first year at MarinHealth and where the organization is headed.

    The following interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.



    How is MarinHealth faring now, more than 18 months into the pandemic?
    We’re starting to see some growth and really making great progress in our network. We've added 24 physicians and added clinic locations throughout the North Bay … in Santa Rosa, Napa, Petaluma and Sonoma Valley. So, MarinHealth is really becoming a North Bay health provider.

    “MarinHealth is really becoming a North Bay health provider.“

    And we’ve been able to grow a number of other programs, both in partnership with UCSF — one is our recent orthopedic expansion — and others that we've done as MarinHealth, such as expanding our outpatient behavioral health.

    What is patient volume looking like these days?
    We have seen a good, robust return to pre-COVID volumes, and in some cases, we’ve seen volumes that are higher than we saw even pre-COVID. … Some of it is making sure people know they can receive very high-level care at MarinHealth and don't need to go elsewhere, particularly into the city (San Francisco), for just about everything.

    “We have seen a good, robust return to pre-COVID volumes, and in some cases, we’ve seen volumes that are higher than we saw even pre-COVID.”

    Some of it is a result of pent-up demand, where people weren’t seeking health care as readily during the pandemic because of health concerns. Now that we have the ability to restore consumer confidence, I think at least in Marin, we’re starting to see people take care of conditions that have needed to be cared for. But we still have a ways to go.

    I understand some of that growth in patient volume is related to your new strategic plan, which was in the beginning stages a year ago. Bring us up to speed.

    It was about a four-month process and we elicited an outside group to help. We interviewed between 65 and 70 people, including community stakeholders, our physicians, some of our staff and other community leaders.

    We listened to everybody and were able to develop a very robust strategic plan that included a number of things: operational efficiencies, strategic growth initiatives in exploring new partnerships (and) building on the culture of the organization.

    Can you tell us the partnerships you’re exploring beyond MarinHealth’s existing UCSF Health affiliation?
    I can't. But there are some other things we're working on out in the market and throughout the North Bay that are exciting. We’re just not at a point where we can talk about those just yet, and some of them are under NDA (non-disclosure agreement).

    What are some of the cultural changes being made within MarinHealth?
    This organization had a good culture, but we want to continue to strengthen the culture and some of that comes with transparency, being available and visible, and making sure everybody knows exactly what's going on all the time.

    I do town halls every quarter for the whole enterprise. We have newsletters that come out (several) times a week, and we're constantly communicating with our … staff to make sure they are a part of decisions and know what the decisions are.

    We also need to focus on a culture of accountability and performance. I think that helps, as well.

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