WELLSBORO - Addressing a crowd of about 200 at the annual Growth Resources of Wellsboro-Chamber of Commerce dinner Wednesday, Steve Johnson, president and CEO of Susquehanna Health, said that no matter who wins this year's presidential election, the United States will spend more than twice what England spends on health care.
Johnson oversees Williamsport Regional Medical Center and four hospitals, including Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital in Wellsboro following an "integration" with the Laurel Health System Sept. 1.
Johnson said, "10,000 baby boomers a day will reach 65 and will continue to do so for the next 19 years, the cost of health care will continue to go up and, by 2024, Medicare, as we know it, will be insolvent, so it really doesn't matter who wins, this nation simply cannot afford to continue what it does in the health care business."
CHERYL R. CLARK/Sun-Gazette
Steve Johnson, president and CEO of Susquehanna Health, addresses a crowd at the annual Growth Resources of Wellsboro-Chamber of Commerce dinner Wednesday at the Penn Wells Hotel.
The complexity of the system often results in it competing with each other.
"For a person admitted for a simple appendectomy there are as many as five different physicians that will send bills to that patient, plus the hospital. It would compare to going to a restaurant and getting a bill from the main chef, the sous chef, the pastry chef and the restaurant. It just doesn't make sense," he said.
It is this "hurricane of change" that Laurel Health began preparing for several years ago, determining that finding a preferred partner before the storm hit was the most prudent and responsible course of action, Johnson added.
"I liken it to planting seeds, building relationships. We are planting them now and we expect to reap a harvest by next spring or summer. It is a God mission, something the Lord makes happen, we don't, but we have to do things in the right sequence to give the Lord a chance to make those things happen," he said.
A faith-based, Christian organization, Susquehanna Health organized under that umbrella in 2008, Johnson said, when the Sisters of Catholic Charity contributed Muncy Valley Hospital and Divine Providence Hospital under the condition they remain a faith-based system, "delivering God's healing love to those who we serve."
"We are a world-class organization with three core values, patients come first no matter what. Secondly, we share ownership with our partners; and third, we are absolutely committed to the concept of servant leadership in a Biblical sense," Johnson said.
Longterm care, home health and hospice also are important to Susquehanna Health, he added.
We have committed to building a cancer center straightaway to be open by late next summer," he said.
It will be one of the first physical representations of the partnership.
"With God's (help) we will know the right things to do and have the courage to do them," he said.