Interview with David Jahn, President and CEO of Chippewa County War Memorial Hospital
In the latest episode of the Rural Insights Podcast, David sits down with David Jahn, President and CEO of Chippewa County War Memorial Hospital. David has been with War Memorial for 15 years, and prior to that he was CEO and CFO at Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital in Manistique (his hometown) for 22 years.
David has his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Michigan Technological University and an MBA from Lake Superior State University. He is currently a member of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association Board of Directors and the Vice-Chairman of the Michigan Center for Rural Health Board of Directors.
In this episode, David discusses healthcare in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, and the difficulties that are being faced not just at his facility but in hospitals throughout the UP, including nursing shortages and strain, the impacts of COVID, new partnership opportunities with downstate universities to help attract and recruit more doctors, and funding difficulties from decreasing Medicare reimbursement rates.
You can watch the video discussion here, or listen to the audio podcast here.
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David Jahn impressed me with his knowledge and understanding of the pressures of UP health services. But here’s some observations: Hospitals and communities across the UP are making narrowly defined and limited deals with competing health systems.
The health systems are promoting balkanization so they can get a piece of the action without promising much. It’s a limited commitment with limited payback. The local hospital and community get some help but not a lot because the health systems are reluctant to invest much management attention, specialty staff and capital. Everybody ends up dissatisfied. And more importantly, access to a comprehensive set of well coordinated services to people in a defined region just doesn’t happen. The consequences are no substantial improvements in emergency response, critical specialty care, advance diagnostics and treatment, and staff recruitment.
To say this chopping up of local markets creates healthy competition — it just isn’t so. There isn’t much free market competition among the big health systems. Once they get a big enough piece of the action, the systems limit their competitive moves, it’s too expensive. To say we don’t want one system dominating a region because it takes away choices — well what choices are we talking about if the each system makes only minimal commitments. To say this approach leads to a takeover of local health services — well, maybe that’s the only way you get more reliable, more accessible and better services in each region of the UP.