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Posted on Feb 23, 2016

Hospital CEO candidate: ‘A lot of fight left’ at QVMC

The one finalist for the CEO position at Quincy Valley Medical Center told a small crowd on Tuesday that he isn’t interested in moving to a community to be the guy who turns off the lights to the local hospital.
Rather, he wants to be someone who helps find a solution to making it profitable, said John Ayoub, the former CEO of Melissa Memorial Hospital in Holyoke, Colo.
By coming to Quincy this week, he was hoping to determine if the community still supports its hospital, Ayoub said. What he found was much optimism and respect for the hospital, he said.
“I think there is a lot of fight left,” Ayoub said.
After spending much of Tuesday speaking with hospital staff and the hospital’s board of directors, Ayoub met with members of the public on Tuesday in the training room of Grant County Fire District No. 3.
Ayoub spoke for about 20 minutes and then answered questions for another 40 minutes from the crowd of about three dozen people. Those in the crowd included not only some hospital staff and private citizens but also community leaders from the cities of Quincy and George, the Port of Quincy, Big Bend Community College, Quincy Communities That Care, the hospital’s foundation and more. Audience members were asked to fill out a simple questionnaire, asking whether they liked the candidate and to give any comments.
Ayoub was one of two finalists for the CEO position, which was opened when former CEO Mehdi Merred left the hospital in December. However, the other finalist dropped out.
Randy Zolman, president of the hospital’s board, said a decision on whether to offer Ayoub the position could come as early as later this week, after hospital staff and board members have gotten an opportunity to talk together.
Ayoub, who left his position in Holyoke in August, had served as the administrator at that small hospital for more than eight years. In 2007, he was asked to serve as its interim administrator but less than a year later was appointed to the position full time. Previously, Ayoub was working as a consultant for hospital districts.
“We’re looking for our next great adventure,” said Ayoub, who was joined in Quincy by his wife.
Melissa Memorial Hospital is a critical access hospital that serves about 5,000 people in its district, Ayoub told the crowd. Holyoke is an agricultural community of about 2,400 people, he added.
When Ayoub first arrived at the hospital, it had $1.8 million in the bank, he said. By the time he left, he had helped grow that reserve to $9.1 million, he said.
During his time in Holyoke, the hospital also built a new facility, replacing its original 1940s structure. At the time of his departure, the hospital was preparing to break ground on an expansion, he added.
Hospital Commissioner Anthony Gonzalez said some members of the Quincy hospital board and staff visited Holyoke about six years ago to tour that facility after it was built. Gonzalez was impressed by the hospital and its transformation.
“What an amazing Cinderella story for Holyoke, Colo.,” Gonzalez said.
Ayoub talked of his experience building partnerships in a small community, recruiting and retaining doctors and nurses to a rural hospital, and working in an agricultural community. He described his leadership style as “inclusive,” saying that he likes to consult other people to help make an informed decision.
While Ayoub did not study the hospital’s financials while he was in town, he did have a couple of observations that he shared with the crowd.
“In a community this size, you are woefully understaffed,” Ayoub said.
He also believes the hospital, built in the late 1950s, needs to be replaced. The facility is a tool to building a healthy and profitable hospital, he said.
“From what I have seen, you absolutely need a new facility in this community,” Ayoub said. “A new facility won’t solve all of your problems, but it’s a starting point.”
In his discussion with the board and staff, Ayoub also was aware that many people living in the area choose to seek medical care outside Quincy. Ayoub asked the crowd just why people were choosing to not seek medical services at the hospital.
Among the answers given by the crowd was a lack of continuity of physicians, problems in the billing system, a lack of credibility with the community and a lack of understanding by hospital staff for other cultures.
If he becomes the new CEO at the Quincy hospital, Ayoub said, he would get to work getting to know the community immediately.
“First and foremost, you have to get out and meet people and hear what they have to say,” he said.
In other hospital news, the hospital expects to send out by March 1 a community survey that asks for people’s input on hospital services, Zolman said.
The survey asks if hospital district voters believe an emergency room is necessary in Quincy. It also asks voters to prioritize services.
Lastly, the survey asks if voters would support a bond levy to build a new facility.

 

— By Jill FitzSimmons, editor@qvpr.com

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