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Philips leaving hospital
CEO headed to Winchester

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

From Bulletin staff reports

Grady “Skip” Philips has resigned as CEO of Memorial Hospital in Martinsville.

Philips, who became CEO at Memorial in October 2010, is leaving to become senior vice president and chief operating officer of Valley Health System and Winchester Medical Center in Winchester, according to a news release. Valley Health System is a six-hospital system with almost 6,000 employees and a medical staff of more than 600 physicians, Philips said.

“It’s a great professional opportunity and a larger organization that’s continuing to grow ... ,” he said Tuesday. “Going in at No. 2 is a great opportunity.”

Philips will spend the next few weeks transitioning into his new role, the release said.

Dean Johnston of Martinsville, chairman of Memorial Hospital’s board, credited Philips with leading Memorial through a time of transition.

“The conversion of the hospital from a community hospital to one owned by a corporation — and certainly the changes in health care in our nation — have created challenges, and I think Skip has done a great job of helping us navigate through all those changes,” Johnston said.

Memorial’s former owner, Province Healthcare Co., was purchased by LifePoint Hospitals Inc. in 2005. Johnston said he believes there was a period when the community “hasn’t necessarily felt that the hospital was engaged,” but Philips helped change that.

“Skip has worked very hard to become involved in the community, and we see both donations and partnerships have grown during his time (as CEO),” Johnston said.

He cited Memorial’s recent commitment to donate $100,000 to equip the New College Institute’s new building in uptown Martinsville as a prime example.

That “is a heck of a financial contribution to the greater good of the community, and I think Skip has been very engaged in that process,” Johnston said. “And hopefully our next leader will do the same.”

The news release listed the following as accomplishments in which Philips played a key role:

• Providing a hospital-wide focus for patient safety and patient care that is improving patient care outcomes, reducing risk and enhancing clinical services. Philips said that ranged from creating a safe environment for the staff and visitors to patient care and, on a broader scale, readmissions and mortality.

• Implementing a comprehensive primary care access strategy in conjunction with physician leaders that has resulted in the addition of 17 new mid-level providers (nurse practitioners and physician assistants) and expansion of existing urgent care providers (physicians). Philips said that involved working with hospital-employed physicians and private practices as well as Bassett Family Practice and PATHS to help some clients have access to testing and other services, among other things.

• Developing and implementing growth of a full Hospital Medicine Program (nine physicians and three mid-level providers). This is the hospitalist program.

• Working with the physicians, emergency staff team and hospital team to improve services in the Emergency Room (ER) to include reducing patient throughput and wait times, and adding a new ER physician management team. Philips said for nearly nine months, the time between when a person arrived at the ER and when he saw a provider has averaged around 30 minutes.

• Recruiting and hiring Memorial Hospital’s first chief medical officer (CMO). Dr. Henry Bridges, a medical doctor who specializes in physiatry, which deals with physical medicine and rehabilitation, is the CMO, Philips said. He added that the CMO takes part in discussions and planning with the administration and is the liaison between practicing physicians in the hospital and the community.

“It has been a pleasure working with Skip,” Eric Deaton, market president for LifePoint Hospitals South Central Virginia Market, said in the release. “Skip has played an integral role in helping our team meet goals and objectives focused on improved constituency satisfaction, enhanced quality of care and continuous process improvement. We are grateful for his service and accomplishments that have done so much to enhance our community. We wish him much success in his new role.”

A national search is being conducted to fill the CEO position at Memorial, the release said.

Johnston said he does not know how long the search will take, but he is not impatient.

“There is obviously a staff currently in place that can run the hospital. And I’m sure they have done so when (Philips) has gone on vacation,” Johnston said. “ ... I would rather spend more time finding a person that is a good fit for Martinsville than to rush the process.”

Johnston added that although he is sorry to see Philips leave, he does not fault him for wanting to better himself and his career by pursuing the opportunity at Valley Health.

“I think that the people that are offering this opportunity to Skip are doing so because he’s done a great job in Martinsville. So while we hate to lose him, we certainly have to applaud him on what he’s accomplished,” Johnston said.

In addition to his work at Memorial, Philips has been involved in numerous community groups. They include the boards of Phoenix Community Development Corp., YMCA and the Virginia Museum of Natural History Foundation. He also has served with Rotary, the Smart Beginnings Leadership Council, West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board and the Dan River Regional Collaborative. “For three years, it has been my pleasure to serve as chief executive officer of what I feel is one of the finest hospitals in Southern Virginia,” Philips said in the release. “I am proud of the team we have built and the progress we have made. Memorial Hospital has grown and enhanced services across the region. That is a direct result of the employees: the work they continue to do, and most of all their dedication and commitment to delivering the highest level of quality care to our community. I am proud to have been a part of this great team.”


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