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For Centra President and CEO E.W. Tibbs, Centra’s upcoming purchase of Carilion’s interest in Bedford Memorial Hospital “is really a homecoming.”
“The people there are a lot of my own family, my neighbors, my friends – people I see daily,” Tibbs said. “This is deeply personal.”
Tibbs, born and raised in Bedford, still lives here with his family and “plans to live there for a long time.” He is a former nurse and president and CEO of Bedford Memorial.
In short, the well-being of the hospital is vitally important to him.
Last week Centra and Carilion announced the agreement by the Board of Directors of BMH and Oakwood Health and Rehabilitation Center to transfer full ownership of the facilities to Centra later this year.
Since 2001, the 50-bed community hospital and 111-bed long-term care facility have been co-owned by Centra and Carilion Clinic. Carilion will sell its 50 percent ownership to Centra.
Tibbs, who holds a bachelor of science degree in nursing and a master’s degree in business administration, said the plan is to transition oversight of the facilities to more of a “community-based board of directors.” Traditionally, the Bedford board had 18 members--six from Centra, six from Carilion and six from the community. The new board makeup will have 11 members—nine from the community and two Centra members.
“We need a much deeper connection to the community,” Tibbs said. By taking those steps, he said the board will have a better understanding of the community’s needs now and into the future.
The Bedford Board of Directors determined the community’s health needs could best be served going forward with a single owner.
Tibbs met with employees of the hospital and Oakwood last week. Employees will be able to keep their jobs and all will be able to transfer their benefit and pay scales, and tenure into Centra’s system. “We will meet with every employee individually,” he said.
Tibbs said a number of forums will be held in the community so the public can provide their thoughts on what the community’s healthcare needs are.
“We’ll keep listening and we’ll keep asking questions,” Tibbs said.
Centra has a team of about 50 people who will oversee the transition over the next several months. Patti Jurkus will remain as the hospital’s CEO.
Tibbs said the purchase represents Centra’s renewed and ongoing commitment to the community. “We feel very fortunate to extend our commitment that has been there for a long, long time,” he said.
Helping to develop strong, community hospitals also fits into Centra’s strategic and facilities plans.
“This is something that has been on our mind for a long time,” Tibbs said.
One of the first pursuits will be an aggressive recruitment of physicians.
“Our success depends on our ability to recruit and retain a distinguished medical community and to connect with the community and build loyalty there,” Tibbs said.
That work will be spread out over a couple of years.
Tibbs said with the healthcare industry changing, it became more difficult to have two sets of bureaucracies attempting to run the hospital.
The transition will also include making material investments in the facilities. He said between now and July 1 a strategic plan will be developed with “every square inch” of the campus and its use studied. Equipment needs will be addressed. Tibbs said Centra is “deeply committed” to making sure area residents can get their health and wellness services at BMH.
A press release on the sale noted that Carilion has moved away from operating long-term care facilities while Centra currently operates three nursing and rehabilitation facilities.
“I have a vested interest in its future and success,” Tibbs said of BMH. “As healthcare changes, this hospital will play an important role in the well-being and health of this community. I’m eager for this homecoming and for Centra to be a greater part of this hospital.”
The ownership transfer is expected to be finalized in mid-2014.