Hospital analyzes where change is needed

By Vicki Hyatt | Aug 27, 2014

Duke LifePoint HealthCare, the new owners of Haywood Regional Medical Center, is diving into its first quarter “to do” list literally.

In what interim Chief Executive Officer Richard Grogan calls a “deep dive,” where clinical experts and experts in every discipline are brought in to see what works and what needs to be improved.

“It is important to send people in to make sure everyone at the hospital has the skills they need. During this period, we analyze everything to look for the best places where resources can be spent,” Grogan said.

It’s a method proven to work well as it brings change about in a way that engages everyone and offers a path to agreement, he explained.

“I love the deep dive. It’s a wonderful way to come into the community,” he said. “It’s interactive and everyone is part of the change.”

The deep dive involves interviewing every physician on staff, every department head, plenty of staffers and even members of the community.

Grogan said he absolutely loves his time in Haywood, where he is enjoying hiking and looks forward to even doing some bicycling, one of his hobbies.

Grogan said it is extremely impressive that 127 of the 133 physicians on staff are board certified.

Upon graduating from medical school, physicians can represent themselves as they wish — a surgeon, a cardiologist, a urologist —even though they have had no specialized training in the field. A board certified physician, on the other hand, must have specialized training in their field, met rigorous standards, continue their training in their field and pass tests every 10 years.

“Those physicians could be anywhere in the country,” he said. “They are here because they want to be here. It is very impressive to see a hospital this size with this level of

trained physicians.”

Grogan made his remarks Monday night before a meeting of the local elected officials in the county who gather every other month to discuss issues in their community. He told them a strong hospital is one where the leadership in the community knows “they can approach us. This is an exciting time, and I’m very excited about the broad community and hospital support we’ve seen.”

As the interim CEO, Grogan will guide the transition from Haywood Regional’s former nonprofit operating status in unison with the WestCare group under the name MedWest to that of a for-profit DukeLife hospital.

As part of the purchase agreement, DukeLifePoint committed to spend $36 million to upgrade the facilities and bring needed services into the community. That is a process that has already started — mostly on things that aren’t readily seen such as for new mattresses, roof repair, upgrading equipment or other investments to bring the facility up to where it needs to be.

Grogan said the day begins at 7 a.m. when he starts a two-hour period walking around the hospital checking out what’s going on, visiting with staff and chatting with visitors or physicians.

“It makes people comfortable so we can have meaningful dialogues,” he said.

Grogan answered several questions from the group, and then voluntarily addressed an issue he said he suspected folks were too polite to ask about — Mission Health’s $1.3 million purchase of 23 acres near Haywood Regional. Mission plans on building and operating a center for an expanded presence of primary and ancillary care providers.

“We didn’t know they were doing it,” Grogran said of the recent announcement, “but we’re not surprised. It really has no bearing on us. We will stay focused on what we’re doing.”

Grogan said Haywood Regional will continue to send patients that need services not available locally to Mission and will build a “good, solid community hospital as we move forward.”

While he's found the perfect place to live on a mountain high above Lake Junaluska, it shouldn't pose a problem if bad weather hits.

Grogan said in an earlier interview he is accustomed to staying at the hospital when emergencies or inclement weather hits.