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New director seeks to spread the word on clinics

Thursday, August 22, 2002

(Photo)
Daniel F. Brachman
NEW MADRID - Even a health network needs someone to soothe its growing pains. And while he isn't a doctor, the Southeast Missouri Health Network's board believes they have found that person in Daniel F. Brachman.

Brachman is the new executive director of the six-county non-profit organization designed to provide preventive, primary medical care to the under-insured and uninsured of Southeast Missouri. He began his duties in July.

"The SEMO Health Network provides a high quality of care and we feel with him at the controls it will continue to provide a high quality and even higher quality of health care services in the future," said board president Glen Haynes of Hayti.

Haynes noted Brachman's vast amount of health care experience and his direct experience in federal qualified health centers such as SEMO Health Network made him their pick for the position of executive director. "His experience is coming through already," said Haynes. "He is very knowledgeable and very articulate in the handling of the day-to-day duties."

While most recently serving as interim CEO for a federal health center in Florida, much of Brachman's work experience is in the Midwest. A graduate of the University of Illinois School of Public Health with a masters in public health - health resource management, Brachman has worked with a 140-bed acute care community hospital in Manitowoc, Wis.; as president and CEO of a medical center in Rolla, N.D.; and from April 2000 to August 2001 as the executive director of the River Hills Health Center in Ottumwa, Iowa.

Brachman heard of the opening at the New Madrid-based health network during a national convention in Washington, D.C., and decided to apply. "This is what I like to do," he said about directing community health organizations.

After a few weeks on the job, he said he is pleased with what he has found at SEMO Health Network. And, he has found some challenges that will require him to call upon his 23 years of experience in working with health care and medical organizations.

While previously he has worked with individual sites, SEMO Health Network reaches out to six counties in the Bootheel and draws patients from an even larger area. "Most of our patients are from the Bootheel area but from the southern clinics we find we are serving an even wider area. At our Kennett site we are seeing patients from Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri."

And the services provided are vast as well.

"One of the challenges is understanding the programmatic details," said Brachman. "There are so many programs - dental programs at New Madrid and Kennett, the migrant program at Kennett, busy medical clinics at New Madrid and Sikeston and smaller clinics at Lilbourn, Bernie and Portageville."

Because the organization had not had a director for several months, Brachman said there were many decisions waiting for him on his desk. From the first day in the office he has sorted through the paperwork, listened to his staff, filed applications for grants and worked to develop programs already funded.

An audit in March for the Health Network showed a deficit in the financial operations. Brachman emphasized while it didn't put the facilities in any "financial crisis" expenses were exceeding cash in-flow.

To deal with the problem, five employees were laid off and duties restructured by Brachman. To provide a more structured operation within the 78-member organization which includes five full-time doctors, nine nurse practitioners and two dentists, there is now a chief financial officer, a job filled by Ron Camp. Cheryl White was named the chief operations officer with managers designated to oversee the various programs.

"The future looks very good. SEMO Health Network is in a very good financial situation," he said, describing the clinics as a "break-even operation."

He noted the clinics' patient-base is growing. In the past year, the clinics logged 55,000 patient visits.

The biggest challenge, the new director said, is getting the word out about the services available from the SEMO Health Network.

"My No. 1 job is to let people in the area know what SEMO Health Network is - a federally qualified health center that uses taxpayer dollars to provide care to those who can't afford to pay for care and to remind them that we serve anyone who comes to our office for care - those with private insurance, on Medicare or Medicaid and for those who may have trouble paying, either through job loss or high insurance deductible, we offer a sliding fee scale."

Brachman is also putting emphasis on the Network's patient-medication assistance program. Through the program, which he hopes to see expanded, those who meet the income requirements can obtain medication free of charge.

Reviewing SEMO Health Network's history and where he would like to see it go, Brachman added: "SEMO Health Network hopes to make a very meaningful contribution to the health status of people living in the Bootheel region."