GREENSBORO, N.C. – Cone Health CEO Tim Rice is in charge of well more than 10,000 employees at Guilford County’s largest employer behind the public school system. Those people work at — among other places — six hospitals (three major ones in Greensboro), two smaller hospitals or “med-centers” (in High Point and Kernersville) and nearly 80 doctors’ practices.
He plans to retire at the end of 2014.
“I know what I’ll miss the most,” Rice says. “I love to get out of my office and wander the hallways and be out there with the people doing the work.”
But it’s through these interactions Rice has been able to witness the effects of unprecedented change over the last few years—not only in his industry, but in Cone itself.
Here are his takes on some of the big issues:
ON CONE’S RECENT EXPANSION:
“We just as an economy are spending way too much on healthcare. So we need to be efficient. We need to rationalize services. I go back to the days when Cone (Hospital) and Wesley (Long Hospital) merged, we had cardiac caths going on in both hospitals. Well, we consolidated that. We had deliveries going on at Women’s (Hospital) and Wesley. We consolidated that.”
ON CONE’S MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT WITH CAROLINA’S HEALTHCARE OF CHARLOTTE:
“So when we’re purchasing something, we might purchase an MRI scanner every year or two years and collectively (both Cone and Carolina’s Healthcare) we might purchase five a year. So it really gives us the opportunity to drive costs down.”
ON THE GOVERNOR’S DECISION NOT TO EXPAND MEDICAID:
“We’ve got 80,000 citizens just in Guilford County that don’t have health insurance. Medicaid expansion would have provided that for about half of those.”
WHY ALL THE NEW CONSTRUCTION WHEN MONEY’S SO TIGHT:
“Well, those are long-term investments. They’re things our community needs. Our Cancer Center, our volumes have grown so much before people are surviving longer. The same thing with the North Tower at Cone. A big investment. We were replacing operating rooms that were built in the 70s and 80s.”
ON THE QUALITY OF CARE:
“I think in this region, we offer really good healthcare. And people don’t need to leave our immediate area to get much.”