Q&A:  Award-winning CEO on Running a Small Hospital

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , December 5, 2012

HLM: How has being a physician affected your role as a hospital leader?

"I have to be careful because the people who read this who aren't physicians will say 'wow what the hell does he think?'—but you are running a hospital. There are conversations in every board meeting and staff meeting that involve care, that as a physician I understand at a much deeper level having been a practicing physician.

I can have those one-on-one conversations with a cardiologist or a general surgeon or an internist about what the call or the case is like. When I say we are going to put quality and safety first I can really mean it.

Obviously that is a trend nationwide. There are more physicians running hospitals whereas 20 years ago you had maybe one at Cleveland Clinic and a few academic medical centers. Now people are saying 'well hey it kind of makes sense if you have the right person.' It doesn't mean that every physician should be a CEO, obviously."

HLM: How do you see healthcare reform affecting your hospital?

"It's going to become more of a community asset. We have to work together with limited resources in the community and get the job done together. We are trying to work more closely with the school district and other volunteer groups that normally have nothing to do with the hospital.

We need to be the conduit for all of that and bring everyone together if we are going to improve the health of the community. We can't do it alone. They can't do it alone. We need to do it together. It's going to tighten that relationship even more."

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