By JIM MISUNAS
LARNED — When HaysMed searched for its newest administrator at Pawnee Valley Community Hospital, they found their man in their backyard.
Hughes served as the hospital administrator at Ellinwood District Hospital prior to working at Pawnee Valley Community Hospital. He has 19 years experience in healthcare and his management style focuses on creating a team oriented organization that specializes in providing quality healthcare to meet the needs of the community they serve. Hughes is originally from North Carolina.
“As the hospital administrator for Pawnee Valley Community Hospital, I am both honored and humbled to serve the citizens of Pawnee County and surrounding communities,” Hughes said.
Hughes conducted extensive interviews with HaysMed officials, the Pawnee Valley Community Hospital physicians and the Pawnee County commissioners.
“The interview process was great. Everybody was pretty much involved,” Hughes said. “Even when you have a managing partner, that is not unusual.”
HaysMed performed its due diligence after Matt Heyn departed Pawnee Valley Community Hospital to become administrator in May 2014 at Ransom Memorial Hospital in Ottawa. It would be seven months before Hughes began full-time work at Pawnee Valley Community Hospital.
“Everyone weighed in. Hays-Med had their input. Department heads, which are our directors, the admin team and the county commissioners made sure it was a good fit for this community,” said Linda Henderson, Pawnee Valley Community Hospital marketing director. “We wanted to make sure we got the right one.”
Hughes was aware how Larned citizens preserved control over their local hospital by passing a local 1 percent tax and winning a court battle to regain a critical access care license from Catholic Health Initiatives.
The Critical Access Hospital designation was established in 1997 to aid small, rural hospitals in operating critical care services. The designation allows the hospital to receive reimbursements on Medicare and Medicaid.
“Everyone remembers fighting for that critical access designation,” Hughes said. “It’s a testament to the town fighting for what they believed. “Larned and Pawnee County knew what they wanted in healthcare. If there are small towns which need a guide for healthcare, they should come to Larned and people will tell you the passion they needed to get that done.”
The local hospital had 22 full-time employees when the hospital changed hands to Pawnee County’s control, thanks to a favorable court ruling with the help of Kansas Attorney General Steve Six. Pawnee Valley Community Hospital features more than 90 full-time employees.
Hughes said his first impressions were positive once he met all of the department heads and physicians at the hospital.
“My first general impression is everyone was at a high level of getting things done the right way,” he said. “It’s run really well and they’ve got good management. You don’t want to mess it up. Everyone is self motivated to do a great job. They are hungry to do the best. They are not satisfied with being status quo.”
Pawnee Valley Community Hospital has been profitable from the first month the new hospital opened. It has earned more than $3 million in revenue in a month and has outpaced its expectations to repay a $19.6 million bond.
“It’s impressive because a lot of critical access hospitals that are struggling,” Hughes said. “They may be barely hanging on because of the cuts in reimbursement. Every year, they talk about taking the critical access designation away.
“The most appealing thing about this hospital besides its financial stability, is the overwhelming support from the local community,” Hughes said. “There is stress making it a top-notch facility. To get to that high level, you have the community behind you.”
Hughes said he’s pleased he’s part of a successful team that has a proven track record.
“You are generally as good as your team,” he said. “It’s getting your team motivated and getting the right people. You don’t want to be good and stay there. What I do well is bring out the excellence. I want to get the most out of their attributes. I don’t like complacency. We want to be at a level of high performance.
Hughes said his job at Pawnee Valley Community Hospital was better than he expected.
“After the first week, I felt welcome at Pawnee Valley,” he said. “I did not realize how good a situation I was getting into. The Women’s Auxiliary with more than 90 members. is an example of the support”
Hughes has been involved in both professional and community activities. He has served as president of the Ellinwood Chamber of Commerce Board, as a member of the KAHCE Mentoring Committee, and as a member of the Kansas Hospital Association Governance Task Force.
Hughes earned a bachelor’s degree in health service and management from the Ottawa University, Overland Park. Prior to healthcare administration, Hughes served as radiology director at North East Montana Health Services, Wolf Point, Mont.; and at Western Plains Medical Complex, Dodge City.