MORRIS – A crowd of public officials, business owners, community members and others gathered this week at Morris Hospital for the inaugural State of the Hospital address.
The speech was delivered Tuesday by Morris Hospital and Healthcare Center’s CEO Mark Steadham after a brief introduction by Michael Rittof, chairman of the hospital’s Board of Directors.
The event focused on reassuring the community about Morris Hospital’s status as a thriving, independent hospital.
“We’re really proud of the little gem we have here in Morris,” Rittof told the crowd.
Steadham’s address highlighted the hospital’s growth initiatives, national ratings, financial performance and flood prevention measures.
Some of the hospital’s most notable growth initiatives were the expansion into Yorkville, which is home to a new Morris Hospital campus, and substantial investments into new technology.
“We’re moving from an era where doctors and nurses and health care givers wrote on a paper chart to a world where everything is entered into a computer,” Steadham said. “It’s a whole new world for health care.”
Steadham also stressed the important role of the hospital’s volunteers, many of whom were in the audience Tuesday.
In 2013, the hospital had more than 600 volunteers who donated nearly 57,000 hours of service to the hospital. On any given day, a number of volunteers can be found staffing the reception desks, driving patients to appointments or other tasks throughout the hospital.
“Of all of the hospitals I’ve worked at, I’ve never experienced the kind of volunteer service like we have at Morris Hospital,” Steadham told the crowd.
Financially, the hospital is retaining high profit margins, Steadham said.
“One of the misconceptions about a not-for-profit organization is that you’re not supposed to earn a profit,” Steadham said. “That just isn’t the case.”
The hospital stayed out of the red last year despite weathering one of the most damaging events in the hospital’s history – the April 2013 flood.
Steadham said the flood had a $3 million financial impact on the hospital. To date, the hospital has only received $143,000 from its insurance company and is still working to secure funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The hospital has since invested in new flood retention walls, gates and other safety measures to prevent future flood damage.
“We know that it is not possible to prevent flooding from occurring on our campus,” Steadham said. “But we also have taken a number of steps to ensure that flood waters never enter the hospital ever again.”
It is unclear whether the hospital will make the address an annual occurrence, but Morris Hospital’s public relations manager Janet Long said Wednesday officials were happy with the event.
“It was a way to provide a face-to-face opportunity to show the community how we’re doing,” Long said. “We belong to the community.”