Five Questions With: Aimee Brewer

Attleboro-based Study Memorial Hospital has been around for more than a century, but now it’s undergoing a name change. The health system, which now includes an urgent care facility and 26 medical practices in southeastern Massachusetts, is being rebranded as Sturdy Health.

Aimee Brewer, CEO and president of Sturdy, speaks about the rebranding.

PBN: Sturdy Memorial Hospital recently celebrated 110 years of care by changing its name and logo. What prompted the rebranding?

BREWER: Reflecting on Sturdy’s 110-year legacy of care, we felt this was the perfect moment to refine our name to tell our broader story. The name Sturdy Memorial Hospital reinforced a misconception that we only offer hospital-based care when we are a health system that cares for you during all ages and stages of life: from our emergency department, surgical services and maternity department with all private rooms to the wide array of care in our primary and specialty care practices and urgent care center.

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PBN: As part of the rebranding, the hospital and its 26 medical practices are being unified. Why is creating one umbrella system important?

BREWER: This is a crucial step that will make it clearer to the people of our region that we are an integrated health care system that offers hospital-based care, emergency and urgent care, primary care and a wide range of specialty care.

In fact, over 310,000 patient visits occur in our medical practices each year. Creating one umbrella system demonstrates to our community, as well as each other, that we are unified as one health system that is focused on providing exceptional care exceptionally close to home.

PBN: What do you see as the biggest challenges for Sturdy Health and other health systems right now?

BREWER: Recovering from the profound pandemic impact. The extraordinary tension between financial sustainability and post-pandemic recovery, along with the ever-increasing demands for care, continue to create strong headwinds. Staffing shortages continue, supply costs continue to rise, and the acuity level of patients seeking care has intensified. This is most vivid in the unyielding demand for behavioral health services and the impact we and many others see within their emergency departments.

PBN: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on a lot of financial challenges to health systems all over the country. Where does Sturdy stand now financially?

BREWER: Health systems nationwide experienced the worst financial year in recent history in 2022. This can be directly attributed to skyrocketing supply costs and contract labor costs, up 600% from the same time period pre-pandemic locally.

At Sturdy, we have been laser-focused on financial recovery and sustainability, and we have seen continued improvements and service line growth because of those efforts. While 2023 continues to present challenges, we are focused on the future and on investing in the health and wellness of our community.

PBN: What’s your vision for Sturdy Health? Do you have any further plans of growth or expansion?

BREWER: Our vision is to be a trusted partner to our patients, communities and each other, inspiring hope and enabling better health and quality of life. Our comprehensive strategic plan developed in 2022 keeps us all focused on our future, expanding and growing to meet the needs of our community.

We will be breaking ground on a new Specialty Care Medical Office Building this fall. This three-story, 65,000-square-foot facility includes our Cancer Center, Cardiovascular Center, gastroenterology and more. We are also in the process of finalizing plans for additional expansion projects that we’ll be announcing later this summer.

As a community-driven, not-for-profit health system, we feel this level of investment and collaboration is our duty. The future is bright at Sturdy Health, and we take our responsibility to improve the health and well-being of our community very seriously. We are excited about the next 110 years of caring for our communities!

Claudia Chiappa is a PBN contributing writer.