For Amy McLaughlin, a career in healthcare was never the initial plan. But with the support and resources from Manning Regional Healthcare Center (MRHC) and MercyOne, she not only found herself working in healthcare but helping lead a rural hospital, serving as the Chief Financial Officer at MRHC.
“Healthcare is never something I intentionally sought out, it sort of found me instead,” said McLaughlin, CPA, CHFP. “After moving, I was looking for a career in finance closer to my new home rather than commuting to Omaha. This role just so happened to be vacant and turned out to be the perfect fit.”
McLaughlin graduated from Iowa State University where she received her undergraduate degree in accounting and started her career at ConAgra Foods, working in internal audit, consumer-branded finance, and mergers and acquisitions. After moving to Audubon, she found her way to MRHC in 2015.
“Anytime we can recruit a young finance professional to serve at one of our Iowa rural hospitals is a win,” said MercyOne Network Finance Executive, Sandra Christensen, CPA, FHFMA. “Amy has been no exception to this. She works hard every day to grow in knowledge and expertise to ensure the community has access to great healthcare. We feel so fortunate to have her in the CFO role at MRHC.”
Even though McLaughlin did not have a background in healthcare, MRHC saw potential and gave her the support and resources she needed to succeed.
“MRHC took a leap of faith and invested resources in me to help me gain the knowledge and experience that’s shaped me into the healthcare finance leader I am today,” McLaughlin said. “They have always been supportive of me furthering my education in both finance and healthcare. MRHC paid for the courses and exam to help me become a Certified Healthcare Finance Professional (CHFP), funded my tuition in the IHA Advanced Leadership Academy, and they pay for my Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) and Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) memberships.”
Since McLaughlin is technically an employee of MercyOne and represents the affiliate connection between the two organizations, she is able to benefit from additional resources.
“It’s often overwhelming trying to navigate the intricacies of healthcare finance. Being a MercyOne affiliate and employee has allowed me to tap into their pool of resources and vast areas of expertise when we have questions or need help navigating certain situations,” shared McLaughlin. “It has also allowed me to build a network of other rural CFO’s and finance professionals to bounce ideas off of and share best practices.”
Even with the resources and advantages that come with being a MercyOne affiliate, there have been no shortage of challenges in McLaughlin’s time at MRHC. Rural hospital finances are unique in that you can have increased hospital usage, increase your prices for services, and still lose money due to the complexities of both federal and commercial reimbursement.
“The biggest difficulty we run into is when insurance payers reduce their reimbursement rates. As a Critical Access Hospital, we don’t have a lot of control over what we get paid for the services we provide. We are constantly evaluating what our projected reimbursement will be versus the cost to provide the service,” McLaughlin said. “Unfortunately, at times it forces very difficult conversations and decisions about whether it makes sense to continue to offer something that’s unprofitable. We try to stay proactive and use a forward-thinking approach when faced with reimbursement challenges, but it’s certainly a struggle every year.”
McLaughlin recognizes that healthcare finance is constantly evolving, and she will need to continue to find ways to proactively stay ahead of the challenges that rural healthcare facilities are faced with. But she has been able to help MRHC overcome challenges, find success, and achieve several exciting milestones, including starting new service lines.
“We are continually evaluating and expanding service lines based on our communities’ needs, and I’ve been fortunate enough to aid in the startup of a couple in my time here including Senior Life Solutions, Wound Care, and total joint surgeries,” shared McLaughlin. “It’s always exciting when we get to offer a new service to our patients, especially as there is a lot of behind the scenes work that has to be done first.”
In addition to helping MRHC grow and succeed financially, McLaughlin also enjoys her work at MRHC because of the people.
“There is a fun, energetic, and supportive culture at MRHC, second to none. Everyone here matters, no matter what their role is,” shared McLaughlin. “The people here are so selfless and go above and beyond to serve our patients, the community, and each other on a daily basis.”
If you would like to join the MRHC team, visit www.mrhcia.com/careers or call (712) 655-2072 for more information on current job openings.