Arcata Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joellen Clark-Peterson interviews Jed Rudd, director of ancillary services and safety at Mad River Community Hospital, a 26-year Arcata Chamber member.
How did you get involved with Mad River Community Hospital (MRCH)?
I’ve worked in medical administration for 12 years and was last serving in New Mexico when this opportunity came up.
When we [wife and three kids] drove up here [almost two years ago] we felt like we had arrived in Rivendale – it was magical. Everyone warned us about what was negative about the area, but they were all untrue and a ruse to keep us from moving here.
How is MRCH different from other hospitals?
Hospitals are all very boring, but not MRCH. Every person here knows every person here. There’s a sense of commitment to the mission which stems from the origin story [see “About” on website]. It’s a monumental tale – a labor of love.
Another thing that drew me to MRCH – what community hospital makes its own garden? That’s not a profit driven model. That’s a visionary approach to the culture of medicine. Eighty percent of our fresh produce comes from our garden in high yield summertime and 20 percent throughout the winter. That’s innovative.
How is MRCH funded?
It started without any state or federal funding. This is not a common story for a hospital. To this day we are community operated - privately owned, without a community tax while being community focused, serving the non-insured and doing lots of charity care.
We are funded through our operations: through insurance payments, out of pockets, from various federal stipends based on quality and performance, state programs. Health care economics and finances are a whole other topic and it gets crazy confusing.
How many doctors and nurses do you have?
Five-hundred fifty employees. 200 or so are nurses; additional to that employee count are 120 physicians who are part of our services across 24 specialities.
What are the challenges of running a hospital?
We got big challenges in health care! The future of health care reimbursements is unknown. We have no control over what we make. We have some of the highest paid professionals but we have no assurance of the funding structures that affect them.
We are tasked with providing care to people who often can’t afford to pay for it while offering the greatest level of technology through the skills of the highest paid professionals at the lowest possible cost.
Right now in particular, this is the crucible. In the old days you could cough and the money was coming at you, but now you have to be able to validate that what you do brings value. You have to bill for it in different ways with different insurance companies – very confusing. You have to fight for the right to earn the money that you have rightfully earned. Right now small hospitals like us are closing at an alarming rate. It’s a very very challenging time in health care.
What can regular people do?
Being aware that the hospital in your area is typically doing it at a loss. They have to really fight to make ends meet. If there are opportunities to support your local hospital whether it’s through bond measures or something else – when hospitals need support that deserves serious consideration. I think 300 in the last eight years have closed. The stats are out there. We’re not in that place yet, but there could come a time when we need the community’s support.
What does the future of MRCH hold?
We have a lot of land here that is undeveloped and we’re looking at an integrated health care complex. The ability to come to one spot and get a wide array of services: on-site care, a school, images/labs, educating future healthcare professionals, wellness activities.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be MRCH-run either. We could use the Chamber to help us communicate this vision so that the community knows we want to evolve this place.
What books do you recommend or return to again and again?
A New Earth. The Power of Now. Essentialism (a business book). Results that Last (a good business book). A Confederacy of Dunces. The Matrix – a great leadership movie. The Big Lebowski.
How do you enjoy your down time and recharge?
I love to read. I’m an amateur surfer. I’m often at the beach hanging out with great people. I like hiking and outdoor stuff – Humboldt stuff. I play the guitar to chill out.
How does working at a hospital influence how you live your life?
I like to come to work and feel that I’m contributing to people’s lives and you feel that here [MRCH] more than anywhere else. People are born here. I find that inspiring.
This is a time of great change – it freaks a lot of people out, but I have a voice in it to shape it. It speaks to the phoenix rising in me - we can do this. Health care calls you to do something greater than yourself. It’s a cool thing and I’m lucky I get paid to do it.