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Henderson Hospital ready to grow

Weeks after Henderson Hospital opened its doors on Halloween, the decision by Universal Health Services of Delaware to target the southeast valley for the first hospital opening in eight years has proven prescient.

And CEO Sam Kaufman is already planning for the future to address the growing demands not only today but in the next year or two.

Henderson Hospital opened with 30 of its 130 beds available. It already has outgrown that, and by the end of this year the hospital will have 50 to 55 in-patient beds.

The emergency room has seen an average of 65 to 80 patients a day. The hospital is ready to do elective cases in surgical rooms, and now that it has certification from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, it can take all insurance, Kaufman said.

Construction is continuing on a medical office building adjacent to the hospital, where the shell will be completed by January. Doctors’ offices will open during the spring, and a surgical center on the first floor will open by July or August at the latest.

“Business is booming, and the emergency room is busy,” Kaufman said. “We’re already talking about opening another unit (by the end of this year). We’ve already outgrown the initial phase one opening, and now we’re going to be opening more beds and bringing on additional nurses to staff those beds.”

That’s the kind of busy Kaufman expected when he moved into his role as full-time Henderson Hospital CEO in May. He has spent 25 years in the UHS organization in Southern Nevada, advancing up the chain one step at a time, and now he’s reached the pinnacle.

Kaufman has served as director of departments at Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center and Valley Hospital Medical Center. He worked as an assistant administrator for five years at Valley, then was chief operating officer at Desert Springs for five years. He served as CEO of Desert Springs for 11 years and CEO of Desert Springs and Valley combined for about two years.

The 50-year-old Kaufman jumped at the chance to head a new hospital opening. He has lived in Henderson for 25 years, and he said it always has been a goal and dream to be the CEO of a Henderson UHS-owned hospital.

“To build a new hospital is an honor, and then I got to put my thumbprint on this hospital and forever it will be something I was involved in building,” Kaufman said. “I feel I have had some small part or large part in making this a successful hospital the community will see the next 50 to 100 years. No one can ever take that away from you.”

There’s a lot to be done in the construction and strategic planning, but the biggest challenge, however, is bringing in the right doctors and services. It’s hiring the correct staff and management team who set the tone of delivering the best health care, Kaufman said.

“Hiring the right people and setting the right culture is what’s most challenging and ultimately will be the most rewarding thing,” Kaufman said. “Now we’re seeing the fruits of our labor, and we’re already seeing the initial results from that. People are very excited and happy with our work product. The quality is great and safety is great, but that’s only part of it nowadays. Now, it’s about patient and visitor satisfaction, and the only way you get that is have people that care and that are compassionate, empathetic and sympathetic. That is what health care is. It’s not an industry like we’re an assembly line that we’re putting pieces on a line together. You’ve got to have those types of caring and compassionate people.”

Kaufman’s career has spanned a quarter-century, beginning as an assistant head of record processing with the National Institutes of Health. That changed when he served as an usher at a friend’s wedding in Philadelphia when he was 25. That’s where he met his future wife, Andrea, a Las Vegas resident who attended the wedding with her family.

The two commenced a cross-country relationship, and, in 1991, Kaufman relocated to Las Vegas. On the Friday before his Sunday wedding, he was hired by Desert Springs as an evening supervisor of medical records. The couple has four children: Evan, Adam, Eric and Josh.

“I don’t think I would have gotten to this point in my career as fast as I did if I lived back East for whatever reason,” Kaufman said. “When I came out here, I got involved with the right hospital corporation and right mentor in Karla Perez (regional vice president of The Valley Health System and vice president, acute care division, with Universal Health Services Inc.) “She has been pushing me to another level.”

Kaufman earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree in Health Services Administration from the University of Saint Francis.

No one in Kaufman’s family was in the health care industry, but it’s something that always interested him. He worked as a phlebotomist during the summer and had various positions with the American Lung Association.

Kaufman had envisioned himself going to medical school, but when he was in college saw himself not as a doctor but working as an administrator and hospital CEO.

‘I had this mapped when I turned about 19 or 20,” Kaufman said. “I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I liked health care and the administrative portion of health care. I like to plan. I like to work with other people. I like my ideas to be shared throughout, and I like to lead people and manage people.”

Kaufman said he enjoys mentoring others and has about a dozen people who have worked under him — assistant administrators or chief operating officers who have gone on to become CEOs with UHS or other companies. He said his success is based on those who work for him.

“It’s a team win when we win awards,” Kaufman said. “Never forget that. You are never bigger than your organization. It is always about the people that work with you and line staff that work in the hospital.”

The key to success as an administrator is never to be in a rush, Kaufman said. People graduate from college and want to be CEO by the time they’re 26. He said his goal was to be a CEO by 40, and he made it two years early at 38.

“One of the reasons I was successful is I took a lot of time and learned various facets of the hospital and various facets of management within health care,” Kaufman said. “That takes time. I was an assistant administrator for five years at Valley Hospital. I was a chief operating officer for five years at Desert Springs Hospital and ultimately a CEO. Prior to all that I headed a couple of departments at both Valley and Desert for three to five years. You have to put a lot of time and effort into it and wanting to be a sponge and roll your sleeves up and learn every facet of the hospital and have that type of work ethic. It’s very hard work but very fulfilling.”

What makes it fulfilling is seeing success like at Henderson Hospital, Kaufman said. Developing a business plan, a strategic-thinking plan and implementing and executing those plans results in good outcomes and high quality but profitability as well, he said.

“I’m not an architect. I don’t build anything, but I think it’s similar to building something by hand and seeing the success afterward,” Kaufman said. “I like to build strategic plans and do strategies, and I like to implement them and execute and, hopefully, those strategies pay off in profitability or a better outcome or a higher level of satisfaction – something that is measurable that can tie back to all of the hard work that you and your team put into it. That to me is a great feeling.”

Kaufman will be busy at Henderson Hospital with additional beds opening by the end of the year and a surgical center opening by the end of next summer. Additional beds will open in 2017 and in the next two to three years, and a new tower is likely to be built, he said.

Kaufman loves his job as a hospital CEO and sees himself as remaining in this role.

“I have no aspirations for anything else,” Kaufman said. “I have worked for Universal Health Services for 25 years, and they’ve taken very good care of me, and I work at the pleasure of the board and my boss and people back at King of Prussia (where corporate headquarters is located in Pennsylvania). I’m the type of person that doesn’t say no when they ask me to do things. Whatever they want me to do, I am open to it. I like challenges.”

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