Stress, Focus Buoy Healthcare Leaders

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , January 4, 2012

George Kyriacou
President and ceo, Hanover (PA) Hospital

A factor that may be more unique to smaller hospitals than larger hospitals is one that I have been dealing with: a real aversion on the part of both independent medical staff and some boards to take risks.
As a small independent hospital that wants to stay independent, we need to be at the leading edge—not the bleeding edge—of implementing new strategies, rather than on the second or third run when the opportunity may not be so great.

There is a tremendous amount of fear and a desire or belief that if we hold off, this is just a fad that will pass. I don’t believe that is the case.

It is understandable, but a small organization has to be fast moving and nimble to survive as an independent entity in today’s world of constantly aggregating models. If you aren’t willing to take risks and spend money to achieve financial advantage down the road, then you are going to be in a slow death spiral and in a position to be gobbled up by one of the big entities just because you couldn’t keep up with the world today.

Kimberly Bordenkircher, RN, BSN, MBA, FACHE
CEO, Henry County Hospital, Napoleon, OH

Where we are: We are on the edge of what I call transformational change. The decrease in satisfaction will continue until we successfully navigate through that second order of change. The environment and the pace of change is unrelenting.

Where we were: A decade ago when I was in this role, there would be big initiatives coming down the pike and you’d have an opportunity to prepare for them and implement them and sit back and see if
they worked or not. You had some time before each big initiative. That is not the case anymore. The change never stops.

Where we are heading: We are preparing for a future that, to some extent, is completely unknown. We know that healthcare reform is coming. Exactly what that means and what it is going to look like we aren’t sure of, but we have to position our organization so we can survive and hopefully thrive during the change. It is hard to stay focused on what is really important.

Where to focus: What works for me is that in spite of all the regulation and healthcare reform, I try to keep my eye on what is important, and that is the patient. I try to connect all the initiatives and activity back to what is important for patients. Then I work really hard to keep my staff connected to that.

This article appears in the December 2011 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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