Woodlawn Hospital’s new CEO, Alan Fisher, a hospital administration professional with many years of experience, took the helm at the Fulton County hospital in August. He has already come to appreciate the Rochester community and the hard-working staff he oversees.
“People are the biggest assets here, as everyone has a positive attitude and work ethic not found in many other communities,” Fisher says.
Fisher was welcomed to the area on August 11 with an informal gathering for the community. In his previous position, he was the CEO at Mid-Valley Hospital in Omak, Washington. The hospital is similar to Woodlawn, he says, in challenges and opportunities.
“Mid-Valley was also a 25-bed rural hospital, which was in the shape of Woodlawn,” Fisher says. “During my time at Mid-Valley I increased services offered, and we went from 10 days of cash to over 90 days of cash to support operations. The same principles I used at Mid-Valley are applicable with Woodlawn.”
Woodlawn has been a part of Fulton County’s medical services since 1905, growing from a house on Pontiac Street to the current facility, which encompasses 33 acres. Fisher is determined to honor that long tradition of health care, as he makes changes he believes will benefit the community and ensure long-term viability for the hospital.
“My goal is to create a sustainable, vibrant and relevant rural hospital that can support the health care needs of Fulton County,” Fisher says. “We will do this by actively marketing services. Presently Woodlawn does not have a formal marketing program, making Woodlawn the best-kept secret in Indiana.”
Fisher says Woodlawn is the only facility in the region rated at four stars by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Fisher says reminding the community of the services accessible at Woodlawn will increase the number of patients served, and improve the financial status of the hospital.
Fisher notes that there have been some successful programs implemented recently by the Woodlawn leadership. These include an employee wellness program for local businesses, a Latina nurse practitioner working in the Akron clinic, and a second general surgeon who will begin rotations in December. The hospital also has a robotic-assisted surgery program that helps patients for faster healing times and less discomfort, Fisher says.
Fisher also plans to promote Woodlawn in the community it serves.
“In the past Woodlawn has been an island unto itself, not actively participating in the various civic and county organizations,” he says. “Our new direction of reaching out and integrating into the community has the leaders of the various community organizations excited about this new, exciting direction.”
Fisher, an Army veteran, says his career in health care was not planned.
“After graduation from college, I went to the Army as a second lieutenant assigned to the medical services corps, where I was in charge of a battalion aid station, and later to a health clinic,” he says. “I became interested in health care and the rest is history.”
Upon his honorable discharge, Fisher had earned the rank of captain and became a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
Rochester was appealing to Fisher, who had previously worked in the South Bend area, due to the challenge of helping this medical facility thrive. The decision to accept the job and take over Woodlawn’s administration was also a personal one. Rochester is three hours away from Erie, Michigan, where Fisher and his wife Linda’s daughter, Stephanie, and their grandchild, Alex, live.
Alan and Linda have been married for 42 years. She is a retired school teacher.
“My wife and I have a tandem bicycle that we enjoy touring,” Fisher shares. “I also am a pianist enjoying jazz music.”
Although he is still new to the hospital and the community, he has observed many positive aspects of Woodlawn and its people.
“Our equipment is state of the art,” he says. “The hospital leaders are always looking for ways to provide efficient, quality care, and the board is extremely supportive and involved in the success of the hospital and clinics. Personally, this is the best group of people with whom I have ever worked. The community as a whole is so positive and friendly. Everyone has a smile on their face and says hello. This isn’t found in other communities I’ve lived in.”
For more info on Woodlawn Hospital, visit woodlawnhospital.com.
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