BY YARA SOUZA
Sharp HealthCare broke ground on its first hospital in 1953. Now, Sharp is completely rebuilding that facility, features seven hospitals and three medical groups and is the largest private-sector employer in the city.
“We make up 27 percent of the (health care) market in San Diego,” said Sharp HealthCare President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Murphy.
Diane Gage, the vice president of marketing and communications for Sharp, said with San Diego County’s population of some 3 million residents, Sharp is responsible for 810,000 people who turn to them for care.
“We believe San Diegans have choices and we have dedicated ourselves (to serving them),” she said. “We see ourselves as a community asset.”
According to its Web site, www.sharp.com, Sharp allocated more than $150 million in “community benefit programs and services” to assist San Diego in 2004 and is San Diego’s leading health care provider.
The organization has implemented what’s called the Sharp Experience, a performance initiative of “six pillars of excellence” that are the common thread for everything from its strategic plans to meeting agendas, Gage said.
According to Sharp’s Web site, these aspects are quality, service, people, finance, growth and community.
“(We strive for) little actions like calling back patients after they return home, smiling and taking you instead of pointing when asked for directions,” Gage said.
She said Sharp’s main local competitors include Scripps Health, UCSD Healthcare and Kaiser Permanente, as well as Palomar Pomerado Health and the Tri-City Healthcare District, among the smaller health care groups.
Sharp is a PPO (preferred provider organization), not an HMO (health maintenance organization), like Kaiser for example, according to Gage.
“(We accept) virtually every insurance plan, versus an HMO, where you have to be a member to receive health care,” she said.
Sharp, a not-for-profit organization, is constantly investing resources to make sure it’s “the best place to work, best place to practice medicine and best place to receive care,” said Murphy, who added that by 2008, Sharp Memorial Hospital will be rebuilt on its existing grounds in Kearny Mesa off Highway 163.
Murphy, a certified public accountant and Cal State Long Beach graduate, oversees roughly 13,500 employees, 2,600 affiliated physicians and 2,000 volunteers, as well as three affiliated medical groups: Sharp Rees-Stealy, Sharp Mission Park and Sharp Community Medical Group, with seven hospitals in San Diego County.
“I have a responsibility to make sure the organization is moving in (the) right direction,” Murphy said. “Moving forward to ensure high quality in a financially responsible manner by delivering on (Sharp’s) vision and mission.”
He has more than 20 years of experience in health care and serves as chairman of the board of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Murphy added that in order to run the organization as a business, he has to stay focused on Sharp’s commitment to excellence and strive toward goals and objectives while being mindful of general business aspects.
For the 2004 fiscal year, Sharp had $1 billion in assets and $1.5 billion in net revenue, according to its Web site.
Sharp’s board of directors appointed Murphy to the job in June 1996. Before being CEO, he served as chief financial officer of Grossmont Hospital, Sharp vice president of financial accounting and reporting and senior vice president of business development and legal affairs, in which he supervised key transactions, according to the Sharp Web site.
Gage previously worked as vice president of marketing and vice president of customer and market strategy for Catholic Health Initiative, a nonprofit national health care corporation based in Denver. She also held the position of Sharp’s vice president of corporate communications.
Last year, the Malcolm Baldrige National Award’s state affiliate, the California Awards for Performance Excellence program, chose Sharp as a bronze-level recipient of the Eureka Award in health care in recognition of its high leadership and financial results, according to Gage.
Murphy said a major challenge for Sharp is the number of uninsured people in the marketplace and society’s inability to address them. He added that staffing regulations are passed along to Sharp without funding also being passed along.
“It’s difficult because 60 percent of our revenue funding comes from the (state and federal) government, and these budget challenges inhibit our abilities to provide health care,” Murphy said.
He said being in San Diego also poses some difficulties with regard to the high cost of living and high utilities costs, recruiting a work force and labor shortages , especially a lack of nurses, lab technicians and pharmacists.
Gage said Sharp is consistent in keeping with its vision and doing things well for its employees, patients and physicians.
“We want to know how to grow and make sure we have the technology to deal with it,” she said.
Yara Souza is an intern for the
San Diego Business Journal.