VAN WERT — It’s been nine months since Jim Pope walked in to Van Wert
County Hospital for his first day as the hospital’s new CEO.
who was coming from five years as CEO and President of Sylvania
Franciscan Health, now CHI Sylvania Franciscan Health, a nonprofit
health system in Sylvania, Ohio, made it his goal to get to know the
community first so that he could meet the needs of it.
his wife, Mary, and he started attending events around the area, like
performances at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, a play at the Van
Wert Council on Aging, the Taste of Vantage event and they even attended
Van Wert Elementary School’s Family, Fun and Fitness Night.
really getting to know the community by spending time living in it and
hearing and listening to what’s going on in the community,” he said.
first day as CEO was July 1, 2016, and after a few months of getting
settled in, he began working with the Van Wert County Hospital
Association Board of Directors, the hospital’s physicians, leadership
team and staff, as well as community leaders to begin making a strategic
plan for the hospital. The first meeting was held in September with
about 75 people in attendance.
Since then, many meetings have been
held with smaller groups, and focus groups have gathered to look at
what direction the hospital needs to move in.
“One of the things
that’s very clear is the community is fiercely independent when it comes
to the hospital, and they want the hospital to remain fiercely
independent,” Pope said noting that vision is shared by the board and
himself as well. “There are many reasons why we would continue to be
Health care is symbiotic, though.
“No one organization can do all things for all people,” he said.
want everyone to choose our hospital first, regardless of what you
need, and then [we want to] put ourselves in a position to help you get
to that next level of care,” Pope explained of the vision of the
hospital. The hospital wants to have worked through the answer for where
that next level of care is whether it is at Van Wert County Hospital or
another so that the patients do not have to think about that in their
time of need.
“We want to be that first choice for health care in
the region and we want to be the one to help you get to that next best
level of care that works best for you,” he added.
entrusts you with their health care they’ve entrusted you with their
most important asset,” Pope said. “It’s our responsibility to live up to
For Van Wert County Hospital under the leadership of Pope,
the plan on how to become a better hospital is nearing completion. As
Pope said, he wants to have a goal so that as things change in the
health care field and in the community he knows how to steer to get back
on track to reach that goal.
“For any organization to move
forward it has to have trust,” Pope said. “We’ve got to have trust that
the board is representing the community. We’ve got to have trust that
the senior leadership team is working to meet the needs of the
community, that the physicians are all meeting the needs of the
That is why Pope has felt it necessary to include
members of the community throughout the development of the strategic
plan, which he expects to be completed in a few months.
“We are a
community hospital and if you’re a community hospital, you absolutely
have to involve community in the discussion,” he said. “A vibrant
community needs a vibrant community hospital; and a vibrant community
hospital needs a vibrant community. As we discuss our role, it really is
what is our role in contributing to make this a vibrant community, it’s
not just the health care. It’s how do we make a positive impact on the
One of the ways Pope wants to make a positive impact is
to work on engagement with the hospital’s workforce and its patients.
He noted if a patient feels engaged by the hospital, it is more likely
he or she will be compliant to take care of his or her health.
and the hospital have been working with young adults and teens to work
on making Van Wert a part of their future plans after graduation. Pope
wants to make sure the hospital is creating opportunities for graduates
to come back to Van Wert.
“We encourage people to remember the hospital when they think of the future,” he said.
said the strategic plan that is in the works will take a lot of work
and some additional employees, but for now, it is baby steps as the
hospital works to implement the plan. Since Van Wert County Hospital is
financially sound, Pope said that makes it easier for them to get a
start on where they want to go.
“I’m having fun,” Pop said. “I’m
blessed to have a strong Board, I’m blessed to have a solid leadership
team around me, I’m blessed to have very dedicated physicians that work
around me, I’m blessed to have a staff that believes in this hospital
and is waiting for us to give them that direction, to give them that
road map so they know how to help us, so they know how to paddle that
boat in the right direction.”