The new chief executive and chief operating officers at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center are hoping to build on accomplishments from 2017 and expand the hospital’s services in the new year.

Krista Roberts assumed the CEO post last October with the retirement of Stan Tatum, who had served as CEO since 2010.

Roberts previously served as chief operating officer at the hospital, and has worked in various posts at St. Mary’s for 27 years. Anthony Rodebush was named the new COO in November to fill the post vacated when Roberts moved up to CEO.

Rodebush most recently served as the associate administrator at Southwest Healthcare System, comprised of two acute-care facilities in California. Southwest Healthcare System and St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center both are subsidiaries of Universal Health Services, Inc.

Both executives said they are settling well into their new positions, and looking forward to capitalizing on the hospital’s accomplishments in 2017.

St. Mary’s was named a five star hospital last December by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, one of only 10 hospitals in the state to earn that distinction.

The hospital also was recognized as a 100 SafeCare Hospital, a recognition sponsored annually by the software company SafeCare Group “to inspire hospital leaders to provide safe, effective care of the highest quality and value.”

Roberts also pointed to St. Mary’s certifications earned in 2017 from The Joint Commission, a health accrediting organization, as a primary stroke center and total hip and knee replacement center and a ranking from US News & World Report as a high-performing hospital.

She attributed the accolades in 2017 to the committed efforts of the hospital’s physicians, staff and volunteers.

“We’ve got a very engaged work force, we have top-notch medical providers that are very engaged, and I think everyone has a common goal of providing high quality care, and that really is our focus,” Roberts said. “We’re constantly looking for ways and opportunities to elevate our performance, and hopefully the patient then benefits from that performance.”

Roberts said the employees at St. Mary’s have achieved new levels of engagement and collaboration through recent “town hall meetings.”

“We strive to keep our employees abreast of our accomplishments as a team, but also some of the strategies we will be pursuing in 2018, so they understand and can be a part of the strategic plan,” she said. “I think that’s important, from our team perspective, that we all come together to identify community needs and how we can best meet those needs. It’s a very collaborative relationship.”

Moving into 2018, Roberts said St. Mary’s will face two challenges common to most hospitals in the state: shrinking and uncertain state budgets, and the need to recruit and retain quality physicians and skilled staff.

She said the budget challenge will require continued communication between legislators and health care providers.

“I think we’re constantly watching, observing and communicating with our state legislators,” Roberts said. “We’re fortunate that they’re all very interested in what’s happening at the Capitol, and how that affects medical providers in the community, so we have an open line of communication with the legislators.”

Even with that communication, Roberts said hard choices will have to made in the next legislative session.

“It is concerning, with the budget picture the way it is, to see what the budget will be in this next legislative session,” she said. “I think as a state, we have a lot of challenges ahead of us in evaluating opportunities to increase revenue and reduce spending.”

Roberts said St. Mary’s will continue to pursue recruiting physicians and skilled staff who want to live in a community like Enid.

“What we’ve tried to create is a culture people want to be a part of,” she said. “We make a concerted effort on recruiting and staying in contact with physicians who have grown up in a rural area, grown up in Northwest Oklahoma, who are interested in coming back here, and staying in touch with them through medical school in hopes they will want to come back to Enid at the end of their medical training program.”

Rodebush said he was attracted to move from California to Enid by the culture and “quality of performance” at St. Mary’s and by the hospital’s engagement in the community.

“It’s a big move, but it’s one people want to make,” Rodebush said, “because who you work with matters, and the work you accomplish together is something you want to take pride in.”

Looking forward to his first full year at St. Mary’s, Rodebush said the community should expect stability at the hospital, despite state budget uncertainty, in part due to its connection with a large network of hospitals.

“St. Mary’s affiliation with Universal Health Services provides it a stability that the region can count on, because of its financial support and corporate resources,” he said. “We are technically advanced as a hospital because of the capital outlay they provide back to the hospital consistently each year.”

Rodebush said St. Mary’s will be expanding its services in 2018 with a new cancer center and 3-D mammography.

Renovation is underway to create a 15-bay chemotherapy infusion and oncology center in Parkview Medical Plaza at 330 S. 5th, which is expected to open later this year.

The 3-D mammography capability will be added at St. Mary’s Women’s Imaging Center at 316 W. Garriott, and is expected to be operational by the end of March.

“That has become the highest standard of care for breast cancer detection, so we’re excited to be able to add that,” Rodebush said.

With the added capabilities and recent national recognition, Roberts said she hopes to overcome the outflow of patients to Oklahoma City.

“There is a perception that people need to leave their local community to receive care in Oklahoma City,” she said, adding that the recent awards and added services “indicate we provide outstanding care here in Enid.”

“I love what I do, and I love who I’m doing it with, with our team of physicians, employees and volunteers,” Roberts said, “and it’s so rewarding to see the national recognition come from the efforts of the team, because I know it’s the patients that benefit from that.”

Story provided by:  Enid News & Eagle

Written by:  James Neal