The future of Westerly Hospital is in the hands of a man who’s not afraid to say there’s more work to do following the institution’s rebound from bankruptcy to rebirth as an affiliate of the prestigious Yale New Haven Health system.
During an interview at The Sun on Wednesday, Patrick Green, president and chief executive officer of L+M Healthcare, which includes Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London, Westerly Hospital, and the Visiting Nurse Association of Southeastern Connecticut, talked about his vision for healthcare in this region six months after his appointment.
While Yale may be calling the long-range, strategic shots, Greene is their man on the ground in a service area that stretches from Washington County in Rhode Island across most of New London County in southeastern Connecticut.
At just 44, that’s quite a responsibility. And Green appears to know that he needs help with his charge.
He talked a lot about talking to a lot of people who he acknowledges know more than he does about his mission. A strategic plan is only as good as the data behind it, and Green is talking to physicians, hospital staff and the community to learn what is needed, what has worked and what hasn’t worked. He talked about meeting with physicians one on one at a coffee shop or over a meal or in their offices. He’s going to them rather than summoning them to the executive suite.
Green acknowledged that he’s still calming some nerves among the medical staff and the hospital staff given the years of uncertainty at the hospital. He wants to bring a sense of stability and he’s working to increase trust between the administration and physicians and staff.
“We’re reengaging and improving relationships with the physicians,” he said. “They’ve felt uncertain with all the changes.”
From the uncertainty of the December 2011 bankruptcy filing to the June 2013 affiliation with L+M Healthcare followed by L+M’s affiliation with Yale in September 2016, healthcare workers and patients have wondered what form the hospital will take in the future.
With significant financial investments required by regulators as part of both affiliations, and a quality of life that can attract more skilled physicians, Green sees a strong future for Westerly Hospital.
Ticking off the names of veteran and new physicians who he says bring top quality care to the region, Green said he also sees a strong foundation upon which to grow more services, thereby strengthening the hospital and healthcare in the region.
Part of Green’s challenge is to get specialists from Yale, who have agreed to see patients in New London, to travel a few more miles east to see patients in Westerly. He implied that he’s working methodically to make that happen so local patients can get more specialized care closer to home.
Green, a native of Oklahoma, has settled with his wife and son in Stonington and is still learning the lay of the land after moving from Colorado where he was senior executive vice president and chief administrative officer of St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood. He called Colorado one of the few remaining “wild, wild, West” states of healthcare, where regulations are far less cumbersome — and fewer in number even — than in New England.
It sounds as though our healthcare is in the hands of an executive who knows what he doesn’t know and is willing to acquire that knowledge from those with the most vested interest in our local hospital — residents, staff and physicians who depend on it every day.