The Road Ahead

A Message from Rayford Kruger, MD, FACS, President & CEO, Southcoast Health

Dear South Coast Community,

For the past two years, COVID has tested every Southcoast Health nurse, provider, employee, and staff member like nothing else before.

Amid all of the uncertainty for humanity, and throughout their own long hours and stressful conditions, one constant has been the heroic efforts of these caregivers, who always put the needs of our community first.

I am inspired by their selflessness and service to our region. Together, they have saved countless lives through their dedication to all who rely on us for care. 

Although we are not yet past this pandemic, and members of our community continue to require hospital care, the number of serious new COVID cases continues to decline in our area.

That is great news for all of us, and we celebrate with you the return to a sense of normalcy and the resumption of familiar activities — from dinners with friends to graduation parties and indoor performances and sporting events. 

However, we urge everyone to continue following the advice of healthcare professionals and the Centers for Disease Control if and when new strains of the virus appear. Further, we urge everyone to get fully vaccinated and boosted to help contain the virus.

Meanwhile, within our hospitals, practices, and facilities, Southcoast Health still has an arduous road ahead of us. 

We continue to seek ways to improve access to care for all members of the communities we serve. Our commitment to excellence will never waver.”

As a result of the pandemic, the system is facing a second consecutive year of significant financial losses. Those losses were partly the result of the additional costs that were necessary to safely care for our patients, staff and community throughout our massive pandemic response. 

The suspension of elective surgical procedures for nonemergency medical conditions, supply chain challenges, and inflationary spikes all contributed to a sharp reduction in income. The higher costs and lower revenues mean we have run a deficit for the past two years. While some have suggested that the pandemic somehow benefited healthcare organizations, the opposite is actually true for Southcoast Health and many other hospitals.

Of course, the costs were far from just financial. 

Many healthcare professionals left the field due to burnout, creating a national staffing shortage in critical roles such as nursing, which has harmed every hospital, along with nursing homes and rehabilitation clinics.

Southcoast Health has met great challenges before, and we have done so while building a system that is a national leader in community health care … with world-class cardiovascular and cancer specialists, weight loss and surgical programs, orthopedic and primary care, along with the many other services we provide to southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. 

This is our honor and privilege, and we are confident that the pandemic has taught us important lessons that will allow us to serve you even better. We have strengthened our relationships with regional healthcare organizations, community partners, and business and government leaders. Enhancing our collaborations will enable us to work together on future regional health challenges and improve the statewide healthcare system for all. 

We continue to seek ways to improve access to care for all members of the communities we serve. We strive to find new ways to improve health equity and health status across the region, and to care for patients when and where it is most convenient to you. 

Our commitment to excellence will never waver.

We are profoundly grateful for the work of our entire staff, who care for patients and one another with great professionalism and compassion, and we continue to strengthen our workplace culture so all employees will feel supported, appreciated and able to do their best work.

Finally, as a not-for-profit health system, we also depend on the community for support of our mission and of our 7,500 dedicated employees, who are devoted to your well-being. We have had important support and ongoing assistance from our state and federal legislative delegations, the Governor Baker administration, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts National Guard.  

Thank you to all who have helped us throughout this pandemic, hanging red Southcoast flags to show support and offer encouragement to frontline heroes during the pandemic’s darkest days, donating personal protective equipment when shortages occurred, performing countless acts of kindness toward our employees, and doing your part to prevent the spread of COVID and to protect yourself and those you love.

In return, we can promise that Southcoast Health will forge ahead in our mission to deliver the highest-quality care for you and your family, close to home. Here, now and always.

With gratitude,

Rayford Kruger, MD, FACS
President & CEO, Southcoast Health   
Chief Physician Executive, Southcoast Physicians Group 
Physician in Chief of Surgical Services