Hospital's CEO wants to keep its culture, grow with employee core
Explorer file photo, Oro Valley Hospital helps people improve their rest with its sleep center.

Shawn Strash doesn't want to mess around with the culture at Oro Valley Hospital. In fact, as chief executive officer, he's very happy with the direction it has taken and encourages it farther along the same path.

"When I first came to this hospital in 2007 it was built on a very solid foundation and continues to be to this day," Strash said. "Oro Valley Hospital has a very strong service-oriented culture and nobody is going to mess with that."

Since taking over as CEO, Strash and the staff instituted the Community Cares program, a service initiative that Strash called "hard-wired into Oro Valley Hospital, meaning it is something that we live and breathe. Everyone gets training, and that training is reinforced regularly."

Community Cares is built around five basic tenets, according to Strash — people, growth, service, quality and finance.

"All of our meetings and operations are based on those five pillars, and we call them pillars because they hold up our hospital," Strash pointed out. "We start off meetings with a celebration of what's going well and what's happening right in the hospital that day."

Strash said he and his staff like to manage up — when an employee does something well, they'll get a note from their CEO, sent to the employee's home, thanking them for a job well done and allowing an opportunity for the employee to talk about the good job around the dinner table with family.

"Recognition of employees is huge for us in this hospital," he noted.

Oro Valley Hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission. It has 550 full-time employee and equivalents on staff, as well as 100 part-time and as-needed employees. The hospital has 144 licensed beds and 201 active physicians, with another 88 physicians in the "courtesy" category.

Besides an emergency department, the hospital also offers cardiac, cardiopulmonary-respiratory, imaging, GI and endoscopy, surgery, urgent care, rehabilitation and intensive care services, as well as nutritional counseling, a laboratory, an orthopedic unit, a pain management center and a sleep center.

Specialties covered at the hospital run the gamut, including allergy, immunology, anesthesiology, cardiology, dermatology, emergency medicine, endocrinology, family practice, gastroenterology, general surgery, gynecology, hematology, infectious disease, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, orthopedics, pain management, pathology, pediatrics, physical medicine and rehab, plastic surgery, podiatry, psychiatry, pulmonology, radiology, rheumatology, urology and vascular surgery.

"About 35 percent of the people who originally started working here when the hospital first opened are still here today," Strash pointed out. "Our turnover at the hospital is very, very low — about 4.7 percent."

Strash noted that Oro Valley Hospital's quality scores "are fantastic, with patient satisfaction being great, and employee and physician satisfaction ranking in the top echelons of the company and nationally."

According to MDS Data Systems Service, the hospital's rehabilitation services have been ranked in the top 10 percent in the country the last three years running, placing in the top 3 percent last year, Strash added.

As to the challenges facing the hospital for the year, Strash sees an aggressive recruitment program to add physicians and specialists to the staff.

"We're planning on bringing in 13 physicians in 2010," he said, "in the areas of primary care, internal medicine and family practice, orthopedics, neurology and urology. We also will have a uro-gynecologist — there's only one other one in the area — an endocrinologist and a reconstructive surgeon."

The hospital already has hired a new vascular surgeon, Alex Westerband, MD, as well as an ear, nose and throat specialist who will come on board shortly.

"We're also recruiting a physical, medical and rehabilitation physician and will establish an outpatient clinic to back up our in-patient unit," Strash said.

He noted the Oro Valley market is a great place to recruit physicians "because they really want to come here due to the founder's mentality, as well as the growth and success of the hospital. They know we do everything possible to satisfy the needs of the community."

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