Supporting Independent Hospitals: Leadership 2022

Picture of Dwayne Gunter
Dwayne Gunter
Chief Executive Officer

As you may know, Ovation Healthcare launched a blog in April 2022.

In the first blog, The Ovation Healthcare Way: The Seven Things Thriving Independent Hospitals Do, I wrote about the challenges of keeping healthcare local and independent and shared the insights Octave has gleaned in its 40+ years of working with hundreds of independent, community hospitals, including:

  • Have a robust organizational focus on improving financial performance.
  • Emphasize workforce productivity and employee engagement,
  • Cultivate an engaged board of directors.

Truth be told, these foundational moves that thriving independent hospitals make are nearly always on my mind. That’s even more so when we gather Octave client leaders and boards of directors for education, training, collaboration, networking and a bit of fun, all to advance our goal of supporting independent hospitals and their leaders.

Supporting Independent, Community Hospitals: Leadership 2022

In July, nearly 150 CEOs, CFOs, Board Chairs and members of Octave client hospital boards of directors participated in two days of education. The first day was reserved for Board Essentials, an all-day workshop for new board members, and returning ones, to acquire the tools to serve effectively.

As Octave Leadership Advisory Services SVP Chip Holmes so articulately shared with board members,

“Hospital board members are the fiduciaries and stewards of the most important asset (I’m biased) in their community; they are legally responsible for everything that happens within the hospital.”

He also discussed the duties and four critical aspects to the job of serving as a hospital board member. To learn more, read Chip’s recent blog about governance and leadership by clicking here.

Supporting Independent, Community Hospitals: Gritman Medical Center

Hands down, the highlight from the first day featured Kara Besst, President and CEO of Gritman Medical Center, and Kristine Wolff, Octave’s Senior Vice President, Clinical Solutions. Besst shared how Octave helped her hospital create and execute its strategic plan. She also discussed her hospital’s successes, including:

  • Recruiting two new surgeons and opening Gritman General Surgeons. Critical to her effort were Octave’s strategic planning insights, an analysis of outmigration behavior and expected surgical volumes, and an evaluation of various models to employ surgeons.
  • Adding 10 new clinics between 2019 and 2022, restructuring the clinic organization and naming Gretta Fiske Jarolimek as Chief Clinics Officer.
  • Navigating the COVID-19-pandemic with a strong focus on medical staff engagement, staff appreciation and recognition, communication and a commitment to reduce burnout by uniting the organization’s three EHRs.

Supporting Independent, Community Hospitals: Wooster Community Hospital Health System

The presentation that made me feel the most pride in Octave was one by the CEO of Wooster Community Hospital, Bill Sheron, and Scott Boyes, who wears two hats as the hospital’s COO and CFO. For nearly 30 years, Octave has worked closely with the leaders and board of directors of Wooster, helping them with strategy, supply chain and much more.

In short, Wooster is among the very best hospitals in the world.

The awards Wooster has received in the first six months of 2022 are:

  • 5-star CMS Rating
  • Best Hospitals in the World 2022 by Newsweek
  • Outstanding Patient Experience Award 2022 by Healthgrades
  • Coronary Intervention Excellence Award 2022 by Healthgrades
  • Stroke Gold Plus Award 2022 by American Heart Association
  • Star Performer “Own the Bone” by American Orthopedic Association
  • DNV Accredited Stroke Program 2022
  • Lown Institute A Ranking – Socially Responsible Hospitals 2022
  • Women’s Choice Award for Best Hospitals 2022
  • Top 100 Hospitals 2022 by IBM/Watson Fortune
  • Huron Excellence in Healthcare Award Winner

As Bill Sheron and Scott Boyes emphatically stated, “Winning never gets old.”

Supporting Independent, Community Hospitals: Three Takeaways

Without a doubt, the ongoing pandemic, supply chain disruptions, labor shortages and increasing expenses have made the past year an especially challenging one for independent hospitals.

When asked to name the most pressing issues for an independent community hospital or health system today, our client leaders responded:


– 7 of 10 healthcare organizations are concerned or very concerned about competing with other healthcare providers for the same candidates.
– From 2019 to 2022, the number of hours worked by travel nurses as a percentage of total nurse hours worked in hospitals increased from four to 23 percent.
– The annual quit rate of healthcare workers grew from 22 percent pre-pandemic to 30 percent at end of year 2021.


In the words of our clients,


Hospital leaders are focused on drivers to protect and improve profit margins.
– 31% Use shared services to replace higher-cost labor roles and improve scalability
– 27% Increase customer interactions through digital platforms and automation
– 13% Reduce complexity of the business/divest underperforming assets

It is in this context that Brendan Rokke, Octave’s Chief Strategy Officer, and I offered three takeaways to Leadership 2022 attendees:

  1. Think and Act Strategically: Innovation still happens during the most difficult times.
    For more on the imperative to act strategically, I encourage you to read a recent blog, 3 Must-Dos for Hospitals Facing Inflation Pressures.
  1. Adaptability with Speed: Translate strategy into flexible actions by:
  • Maximizing economies of scale.
  • Limiting unnecessary exposure.
  • Seeking diversification.
  1. Get Back to Basics: Do not forget about key leadership qualities and behaviors, including:
  • Leading a shared vision with passion.
  • Empowering people to act.
  • Doing what is right, not what is easiest.
  • Finding things to celebrate.

Octave’s clients are invited to join us for Leadership 2023, March 7-9, 2023, at The Wigwam Arizona.

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