Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Adding to the CHRISTUS Family

As we discussed last week, we believe the development of our brand, which is centered around our Journey to Excellence and our commitment to transparency, has propelled the significant growth we’ve had in the system over our decade of existence as CHRISTUS Health.

This growth, of course, has occurred mainly in the two traditional ways that growth happens. Using the analogy of a family, this includes having our own babies (building hospitals, clinics and programs from the ground up), and going into an orphanage and adopting an adolescent (taking on a facility either through management, partnership or ownership which has been in existence for at least 20 years).

The first category, building our own, would recently include CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Westover Hills in San Antonio; CHRISTUS Muguerza Hospital Reynosa in Reynosa, Mexico; CHRISTUS Muguerza Sur in Monterrey, Mexico; the outpatient center at CHRISTUS Hospital - St. Elizabeth in Beaumont, Texas and the new inpatient/outpatient tower at CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini in Alexandria, La. Adopting an adolescent has recently played itself out in the acquisition of CHRISTUS Santa Rosa - New Braunfels in New Braunfels, Texas; our management contracts in five communities across the U.S.; our partnership with CHRISTUS St. Vincent Medical Center in Santa Fe, NM and our entire CHRISTUS Muguerza operation.

Although both of these methodologies for growth are extremely positive and beneficial, they likewise have their own set of challenges. When adopting a 16-year-old, you at least know what the last 16 years has created, compared to having a newborn when the next 16 years are extremely unknown. However, with the newborn, you have the advantage of molding the next 16 years, which is like creating new cement, while with the adolescents, you must chip away at the old cement if you wish to put in its place a new behavior.

More specifically, you can compare these two models in four different aspects: First, the amount of orientation you need regarding the system that they are joining. If you are building a new program or facility, this orientation can be slower and can evolve as the structure is being built. However, if you are merging or taking over the management of an older organization, the orientation must be more intense and in real-time.

Second, these models differ in the relationship building skills they require. When you are building something from the ground up, you are usually doing so in proximity to a present region which has a well-established administrative structure. Therefore, the leadership of the new structure can quickly be integrated into the already-established team. If you are acquiring an organization, however, you are dealing with an entire group of people who are not familiar with your history. Therefore, you will need to spend much more time while the partnership is being negotiated to develop strong interpersonal relationships with this team.

Third, building a shared culture is a much different process in each of these models. When building a new program or structure close to an existing regional structure, the culture can be grown as the program/structure is being built, and can be modeled by the team that is already in place. When a long-standing facility or program is being merged into CHRISTUS, the culture must be created within that smaller organization, which is a much more challenging task. This is aided by bringing that leadership team into the CHRISTUS leadership development programs. This process is even further enhanced if CHRISTUS Associates and leaders are willing to move into this older organization and assume leadership there when it is merged into CHRISTUS Health.

And the fourth aspect would be focus of time and energy. Although at first it might seem that it would take less time to acquire a facility or program than build one, it has been our experience that both methods require equal amounts of time and energy. Building a new structure requires focused facility planning, new hiring, ordering supplies and intense tactical planning to make sure that everything and everyone are in the right place for the day of opening. This somewhat compares to the amount of energy that it takes to do the 2 o’clock feeding until a baby reaches approximately one year of age. With the well-established facility, an equal amount of effort is utilized by transitional team meetings and creating extensive plans relating to salary and benefit changes, policy and procedure differences, branding with signage and logos and articulating the CHRISTUS-like processes that are mandated by being part of a larger family.

In essence, growth is an essential part of a vibrant organization, and occurs either by building your own or acquiring and merging with others. CHRISTUS has elected to take both pathways as opportunities became available. It is important to recognize that each of these are beneficial but have a set of challenges which, if understood and addressed appropriately, will create success in either case.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Please consider adopting the Liberty-Dayton Community Hospital

It is the only hospital in the area and it is at risk of closing due to its parent's troubles (divorce, unemployment, etc.). The hospital has a long history in Southern Liberty County and serves a needy population. CHRISTUS' mission would fit well in Liberty and this hospital could represent a great opportunity for CHRISTUS to extend its mission.