CEO of Memorial Regional Health reflects on first year in Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

CEO of Memorial Regional Health reflects on first year in Craig

Last year the hospital board directly hired a Chief Executive Officer for the first time in more than 30 years, and last week the board and CEO signed a three-year contract for services.

"I am pleased to accept the contract for three years from the board," said Memorial Regional Health CEO Andy Daniels.

We caught up with Daniels to ask him to reflect on the changes of the past year and look ahead to what's next for him, his family and the health care in Moffat County.

What policy, administrative and structural changes have been made in transitioning from a management company to your position?

Probably the most significant in my mind is getting a solid plan with goals and driving toward execution of those goals. From those goals, the policy, administrative and structural changes just flow naturally to support getting it done. We've made lots of changes regarding policies, administrative and structural – too many really to articulate – but those changes support the plan and the goals that we seek to accomplish.

It's been about a year since you were hired, what do you see are your most significant accomplishments in that time?

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From my perspective, my most significant accomplishment has been focusing primarily on the growth and wellbeing of people and the community to which I belong, and seeing those results as our organization makes progress toward a bright future. I am pleased to help see people develop and preform as highly as possible. Our management team is really starting to come together and for that, I am grateful.

What are the biggest challenges you see for MRH in one, two and three years time?

The biggest challenges we see are mainly external to MRH. No one is clear if, or what, additional healthcare reform will bring. A tight labor market is also a concern as we compete to attract quality providers and staff. Lastly, we are hopeful that recent expansion plans at CNCC come to fruition. Expanded dorms will drive more residents, which drive their parents and other supporting business in the market – all of whom will need healthcare in some form at some point.

Recently, a community member expressed concerns that MRH is, or may soon be, in direct competition with Northwest Colorado Health for patients, specifically hospice patients. What is the relationship of MRH with other organizations, specifically Northwest Colorado Health, the Veteran's Tele-Health Clinic, Yampa Valley Medical Center, Pioneer Medical Center and the Rangely District Hospital?

Currently we really don't have a working relationship with Yampa Valley Medical Center, and we don't know how that will evolve once UC Health System acquires them.

Today we collaborate very well Pioneers Medical Center and I see that relationship continuing to grow. We fully support the Veteran's Tele-Health Clinic and have even offered them land should they decide to expand and build a permanent site in Craig. Rangely is about 90 miles away but we have always enjoyed a good working relationship with Rangely.

Lastly, we have been exploring options with Northwest Colorado Health to make our working relationship a win-win for patients in Moffat County. We are encouraged by recent communications that we may be able to work together more closely. We are interested in a partnership that makes this happen.

Addressing specifically the hospice question, we are in the process of finalizing a contract with Northwest Colorado Health to be able to offer inpatient hospice services in Moffat County. We are taking this action to show good faith that we are interested in a tighter relationship.

Is MRH in competition for patients, and if so, what does that mean for the hospital and for patients?

Healthcare is a competitive industry just like other industries. What that means for the hospital is that we have to perform in a high-quality, consistent manner. We have to be able to offer the services that our patients need in our community to the greatest degree possible and practical. Where we cannot offer those services we need to partner with solid entities that can.

We hear a lot about the need to create partnerships, what partnerships have you created, and where do you think there are additional opportunities to work with other entities?

We have some potential partnerships we are currently working on but I can't really discuss those at this time. We have several great existing community partnerships with the City of Craig and Moffat County School District. As an example, in addition to providing athletic trainers for the school district's athletics programs, this past year we were very happy to partner with MCSD for the school health program. This has been a win-win. We are working now to partner with some other entities like the county and the Moffat County Sheriff's Office and we are hopeful that we can meet their needs.

The quality of rural health care is often criticized, how does quality of care at MRH stand up regionally and how does it stand up against big city providers?

In general, the smaller, poorer, and more isolated a rural community is, the more difficult it is to ensure the availability of high-quality health services. However, we're not that small, we're not poor as a community and we're not that isolated. MRH's goal is to provide safe, effective, timely, efficient patient-centered care as equitably as possible to "the big city." Here is an example, we recently partnered with the University of Utah Medical Center in which to offer Tele-ICU services. As of Aug. 21 we are now live and have 24 hours 7 days a week 365 days a year access to specialists here in our community using technology. This means that patients that were being transferred to the big city can now potentially remain local for their hospital care yet have access to the same level of care. We are working hard to have the best of both words, the services you may need from the big city, small town close.

Have you and your family enjoyed living in Craig? Are there any aspects of living here that have delighted or surprised you?

We really have enjoyed living in Craig. In the past year I got to go ice fishing, which I really enjoyed. I also had the opportunity to float the Yampa, which other than getting caught up briefly on the city intake area, was a blast. We really like the people in the community. They are good-hearted people. My wife has been busy volunteering at the community food bank, the soup kitchen and at one of the elementary schools. My daughter really appreciates the dual enrollment capabilities with CNCC and MCSD. My Dad has found his favorite places to go to breakfast and enjoys watching the wildlife. We enjoy our church, the local businesses, and I personally don't miss the humidity of Ohio.

What do you like to do when you are not working?

Good question, but I do not have a good answer. Someone once said, "The ideal job is to find something you love to do and call it work." This is where I'm at, I love my job and I get to call it work. I do have an old station wagon that I'm hoping to have ready for the Parade of Lights this year, so I'm hoping to make it to the front page of the paper.

What else would you like readers to know about you and about MRH?

I am very blessed and happy to serve the Board of Trustees of MRH and the community. This is a great town with lots of potential. I am hopeful for the future.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.