Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

January 14, 2014

More Q&A with new T.J. Samson Community Hospital interim CEO

Staff report
Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — This is Part 2 of a three-part interview. Part 3 will be published in Wednesday’s edition.

Q: Approximately how many physicians are involved in T.J. Health Partners now?

A: Counting hospitalists, it would be about 47.

Q: Are their additional specialities you would like to see be added into the program that aren’t here yet?

A: Our No. 1 need is a neurologist … and they’re very difficult to come by. … In May, Dr. Kummerfeldt will be here and he’s going to be our second pulmonologist. Are you familiar with Dr. [Sudheer] Nambiar? He is a pulmonologist – a very busy pulmonologist – a very good pulmonologist – and with the COPD because of the types of diseases we have here related to smoking, he is slammed. Having a second pulmonologist here is really going to make us – It’s going to be easier to get into see a pulmonologist having him here.

Now, at the same time, much as has been in several instances with the growth of T.J. Health Partners, Dr. Kummerfeldt’s wife is an internist and the best hospitalists are internists, so she’s going to step right into our hospitalists program. She is one of the ones who’s going to be completing a complement of hospitalists when she comes. So, we have Dr. Nambiar, when I was speaking of his wife, Dr. [Asha] Karippot. She’s an oncologist and people just really love her. That’s the point I’m trying to say. When two of those come knocking on the door, you can’t say, “Well, I’m sorry. I don’t have room in the inn for you. Come back later.” Because they’ll get vacuumed up in a day. Those folks, the demand is there and certainly with a full complement of hospitalists and we have a cardiac doctor whose wife is a hospitalist too. I guess they meet in medical school or whatever, but it’s been really good for us to be able to recruit one and then it seems like, “Hey, here’s another one.” That makes sense.

Q: They’re a valuable plus one.

A: Sure. I mean it is. So far, we’ve never been put in a position to have to say, “Hey, we don’t need you. Because we do.”

But again, back to neurology. There is a huge need that we have and that is out as they very first thing that we want. We are in a very good position because of the family practice residency. There are those who will tell you that family practice clinicians will drive health care in the future because you’ve got to go through your family practice doctor. So, having the residency program here, it gives us a keen leg up on having at our disposal – you know – there’s going to be a shortage of family practice doctors. That’s why the residency program is so important not just to us, but to Kentucky in particular.

Q: That’s the program you have in conjunction with the University of Louisville Medical School?

A: Yes.

Q: And is Dr. Brent Wright still heading that?

A: Dr. Wright is half time. He has moved into the dean’s office up at the University of Louisville, but he is part time here still with the residency. He’s precepting and things of that nature, but Dr. Steven House is moving to be program director of that. It’s a fascinating program because these kids are just getting incredible experience and are really just – we’re turning out family practice doctors who are making a difference in the entire state.

Q: How many residents are currently involved?

A: Twelve. It’s a three-year program and you add four every year. We’ve got four who will graduate this year and one of the hospitalists, Dr. [Kristin] Cardona, is coming out of the residency program to the hospitalist program, but the others have other places they want to go. … Certainly, there is a great deal of pride in the residency program of when they get to go – when they are chosen – when they decide where they’re going – it’s amazing to see how proud they are – to see – because you become a family. We had a gentleman who graduated last year who is a hospitalist in Seattle, Wash, now, coming out of our residency program. Boy, they just love to hear from him.

Q: Do you feel T.J. Samson Community Hospital is gaining a reputation for their residency program at the national level?

A: Yes. We have been doing one long enough – 16 or 17 years now – and the standards have been set so high. They’re very careful when they do matching to try to get their quota for the year. They don’t take just anybody and this business of recruiting and bringing someone into the program – there is a lot of pride in that the residents hold.

Q: You’ve just had 36 people take the early retirement package, one of them your predecessor. How will the hospital be filling those spots or will they be filling all of them? Are you going to be doing internal promotions? Are you going to be doing new hires to fill those spots because you’ve had some really good people who have been there for a long time who are now no longer there.

A: In order of importance, we’re trying to fill them from within and there are some that have already been approved to be filled externally because we don’t think there will be candidates internally, but the No. 1 way to go about it is to promote from within and … there’s been a lot of good preparation in human resources department for knowing we had this many people who were going to take retirement I don’t believe I could say every position is going to be filled, but I can tell you that there’s going to be effort put into bringing quality folks in. We already have plans to as quickly as we are identifying who’s going to move into those positions, we’re going to have some management training very quickly because these people who might have been out here on the floor as an RN, maybe overseeing people and we don’t want to just say, “OK, figure it out.” We’re going to very quickly have them through a four-week orientation – one day a week – with an outside firm that’s going to help them learn how to manage people because you just don’t learn that watching somebody else. You kind of have to be there. We want everyone to have the opportunity to learn that if they’re put in that position, but it’s kind of like I was telling you about everybody coming into work and smiling and being in a good mood. Everybody’s covering for everybody because there is nobody – the departments have a lot of pride in what they do and so if there is a department who the director has retired there’s somebody who has stepped up in just about every department who has been close to the director and everybody is rallying around them and saying, “Let’s see what we can do.” So I feel good about that. I don’t feel rushed. I don’t feel like there’s bleeding going on in some department that we’ve got to get somebody over there in a hurry even if it’s the wrong choice.

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