When Christopher E. Remark was looking for a job in the financial field, he didn’t know health care would become his career.
At a job fair in Canton about 16 years ago, the Walsh University graduate asked a recruiter from Aultman Hospital if there were any positions available in the finance department.
No, he was told, the hospital was only looking for nurses.
But two days later, he got a call from Aultman about a new job opening for a financial analyst.
He ended up taking the job — and never leaving.
“The challenges kept things interesting,” he said. “The opportunities are endless.”
Now Remark, 43, is facing even more challenges as Aultman Hospital’s new chief executive officer.
The Stark County native takes over the hospital’s leadership at a time when health-care facilities throughout the country are struggling with reduced reimbursements and massive changes from the federal health-care reform law.
“There is so much challenge associated with reform,” he said.
Like many hospitals, Aultman — one of Stark County’s largest employers — has been facing tight finances in recent years.
Despite its history of strong financial performance, Aultman had a slight loss last year and is hovering around break even so far this year, Remark said.
Aultman posted net patient revenues of nearly $420.2 million in 2011, the most recent year available from federal filings.
Remark said Aultman is taking steps to prepare for health-care reform, particularly the transition toward paying hospitals based on quality and for keeping patients healthy rather than for filling beds.
One key effort he’s pushing is increased communication with the hospital’s 3,200 employees about whether the institution is meeting goals for patient satisfaction, quality and financial performance.
“How do we keep all of our team members up to date?” he asked.
His answer: Along with regular meetings, he plans to roll out quarterly video reports from the executive team that will be shared with employees online.
The fact that Aultman Hospital is part of a health system that includes an insurance company, AultCare, also should help with the move toward “accountable care organizations,” Remark said. The industry trend brings together hospitals and doctors to manage the health of patient populations and then share in any savings.
Many hospitals are opting to forge stronger affiliations if not outright mergers to cope with the industry pressures.
Summa Health System in Akron, for example, is finalizing a deal for Catholic Health Partners to become its minority owner. Akron General’s CEO also has indicated the hospital is open to partnership deals.
Aultman, however, plans to continue to work with other hospitals while maintaining its independence, Remark said.
Aultman and affiliate Orrville Hospital are part of the Independent Hospital Network with Alliance Community Hospital, Pomerene Hospital in Millersburg and Union Hospital in Dover.
Those hospitals joined with Akron General last year to launch a group purchasing effort for medical supplies and service contracts, which collectively saved the institutions about $700,000 in the first quarter this year, Remark said.
Aultman also announced a deal last week for Akron Children’s Hospital to run its pediatric unit.
These are the types of “loose affiliations” Aultman will continue to build, he said.
Aultman also is looking to grow with capital investments, including a planned renovation and expansion to the cancer center, likely in 2014 or 2015, he said. The Women’s Board has started a $5 million fundraising campaign for the project.
Remark reports to Edward J. Roth III, president and chief executive of Aultman Health Foundation. Before Remark’s appointment, Roth served as CEO of both the hospital and the health system.
Along with the Canton hospital, the nonprofit Aultman Health Foundation owns and operates Aultman Orrville Hospital and AultCare insurance company.
Remark has been an executive with the Canton-area health system since 1997, when he joined Aultman as a financial analyst.
Remark’s other previous roles at Aultman Hospital included chief financial officer, vice president of strategy, project consultant, associate vice president and, most recently, chief operating officer.
Remark’s salary was not disclosed.
He and his wife, Stacy, reside in Lake Township with their three children: Katie, 17; Emily, 14; and Christopher, 12.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.