After nearly a dozen years, I attended my last board meeting as President/CEO of this hospital yesterday. I believe that I have missed only one meeting in all of those years. As I retire from the day to day operational aspects of health care and move into the next chapter of my life, it seems like a good time for reflection.
Looking back at the previous twenty plus years, my heart is filled with wonderful memories and the support of many friends, and it is also filled with the challenges and hurts that are almost always a part of senior leadership. A mentor once told me that, “The wind blows hard at the top of the pole.” I’ll never forget another suggestion that came to me from one of my former bosses when I informed him that I was thinking about becoming a hospital president. He said, “If you think you want to run a hospital, make sure you go somewhere where it is the only game in town, in the county, and preferably in the region.” Well, obviously, that was one more piece of advice that went by the wayside. We landed in a place where there were four hospitals all using the same media.
Having started as a musician and band and orchestra director, I have never moved very far from my education roots. It has always been about open communications, respect, dignity, encouragement, a spirit of co-operation, and positive mental attitude for me and those around me. In many ways, being a dad and a teacher was the best practice anyone could have had for running a hospital. Even though one of my favorite sayings was “I don’t want to be anyone’s parent here,” it seemed that there were numerous situations that were similar to the same types of issues that were regularly part of any family’s interactions.
Health care, however, is changing rather dramatically. As our economy and the Boomers both begin to shake, health care has to seek its own level. Will it be directed more toward wellness and prevention? Will it be rationed? (Rationing, of course, would indicated that everyone would get some of what is being offered. You know, similar to sugar rationing in World War II. They just wouldn’t get as much. The reality of our current system is that some get everything and others get NOTHING. Consequently, rationing may not be a great description of this process.)
My new charge is to help hospitals find their niche’, to help them find money and most importantly to find stability by becoming patient centered. We will be attempting to provide hospitals with the knowledge gained from over twenty years of experimentation into areas that had not been popular before we explored them. We will be helping hospitals to become patient-centered, digital, and green to name a few.
Some day, all of this will make sense to those of you who doubt. It was interesting when my career path went from teaching, to arts management, to tourism, to health care. The skeptics deeply questioned the transitions, but it all made sense. As I went from one discipline to the next, it all merged together in a meaningful way in health care management.
Now, we are launching into one more area of expertise, but this time, we have 40 years of experience, and deep knowledge regarding not only life, but marketing, communications, Web 2.0, patient centered care, construction, carbon credits, ambiance, Planetree, Optimal Healing Environments, employee centered care, recruitment, data mining, proteomic and genomic research, wellness centers, hospice, behaviorial modification, food services, fund raising, integrative medicine, and digital radiology equipment. So, if anyone needs a motivational speaker, some advice on OC48 lines, 3TMRI breast coils, micro turbines, public relations campaigns, or anything from the list above, remember me. My web address contact information will be firstname.lastname@example.org.