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CEO and Executive Director Donald Babb
CEO and Executive Director Donald Babb

Knights Winner: Citizens Memorial Healthcare

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In its nearly three decades in operation, Bolivar-based Citizens Memorial Healthcare weathered the dips and rises in the health care industry, building into a multifaceted health system that serves communities in nine counties.

“In 1982 when this hospital was built, there were (barely) any new hospitals being built anywhere because reimbursement was changing from a cost reimbursement for hospitals to prospective pay,” CMH CEO and Executive Director Donald Babb says. “It was unknown, uncharted territory for all hospitals at that time.”

Babb, who joined CMH in 1982 as a hospital administrator, attributes the company’s ability to stay afloat its first year to the early hospital administration’s decision to open its doors three days earlier than planned on Sept. 28, 1982, enabling CMH to receive a year of cost-based reimbursement.

“It was a stroke of luck that we survived, and we survived against all odds (when) a lot of people thought this hospital wouldn’t because of the economic times,” Babb says. “We just worked hard at it, we planned, and had a lot of support from our community, great board leadership, medical staff and a lot of great employees.”

The hospital district was formed by a vote of residents in 1978, and during the next five years, the community pulled together to raise the necessary funds to build a hospital, with more than 5,000 people on hand for the grand opening celebration.

“There were a lot of reasons why we succeeded, and I think it goes back to the commitment of all the people that were here with us,” Babb says.

Today, CMH is an integrated health system with an acute-care hospital, numerous clinics, home care services and long-term care facilities, according to CMH clinics provide a full spectrum of specialized care, including cancer treatment, behavioral health, pulmonology, heart health, sports and occupational medicine and pain management.

CMH began with roughly 45,000 square feet, 53 beds and about six physicians on staff. It has grown to about 1 million square feet in all facilities, 76 hospital beds, 1,568 employees and 121 physicians.

In 2010, CMH posted revenues of roughly $248 million and is projecting $283 million in fiscal 2011, Babb says. CMH was one of Springfield Business Journal’s 2011 Dynamic Dozen honorees, ranking No. 11 among the Ozarks’ fastest-growing companies. The company’s revenues come from inpatient and outpatient services, patient fees, and reimbursements from managed care plans and Medicare and Medicaid. Funds also come from the CMH Foundation, clinic services, home care fees and interest on investments.
Babb says the company spends a substantial amount – about $50 million – on annual payroll.

“We just want to be a good, strong partner,” he adds.

The hospital reported about 13,000 in-patient days, 190,000 clinic visits and an average of 450 to 500 long-term care beds filled in 2010, and Babb says long-term care and home care – particularly for the elderly, have fueled recent growth. He estimates CMH’s growth at about 10 percent to 12 percent a year, factoring in revenues, facilities and the addition of about 10 physicians a year, due largely in part to a CMH partnership with Southwest Baptist University.

“We plan every year for growth,” Babb says, noting he has about eight new projects on tap for this year, including new facilities and programs. “Our focus is to meet the needs of the areas we serve.”

From the 2011 Economic Impact Awards publication
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