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ANN Interview: Loma Linda CEO

“The healthcare industry isn’t for the faint of heart,” writes Ansel Oliver of the Adventist News Network.

So says hospital system chief executive Ruthita Fike. She coordinates with physicians, implements government regulations and balances mind-boggling cost structures. It keeps her and many of her colleagues working only slightly fewer hours than the Emergency Department interns’ 80-hour workweeks.

Fike oversees the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s flagship medical facility — Loma Linda University Medical Center in southern California, the United States state with the most regulation and lowest reimbursement in the healthcare industry.

Adventist News Network: Where is the fine line between the hospital’s mission and staying in business?

Ruthita Fike: We work hard to fine that line. When the state requires you to do things that aren’t part of your faith, you have to accommodate without violating your beliefs. I think most of us believe that as we get closer to the end of time, the world is more stressed, more violent and more in need of Christian healthcare that we’re going to have to find a way through those challenges so that we can continue to provide a faith-based option.

ANN: What is this hospital known for?

Fike: Cardiac, cancer (especially with our proton beam), prostate cancer, pediatric — we serve one quarter of the state with our children’s hospital. We’re a Level I trauma for children and we have an 82-bed neo-natal intensive care unit. That’s one of the largest in the country.

ANN: How does the health care industry compare to the business model of other industries? Is there a business model?

Fike: There is a business model. We’re a billion dollar business, these five hospitals. Loma Linda as a whole is $1.4 billion. We’re also one of the most complex businesses. We have physicians making orders, who in many cases are not employed by you. Administrators can influence those behaviors but you don’t have direct control like other industries.

Read the rest here.

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