Photo by Carla Waters

Don Williams, of Global Enterprise Management LLC, is serving as CEO at Iroquois Memorial Hospital.

Iroquois Memorial Hospital has a new management team and is looking to the future.

Global Enterprise Management LLC, known as GEM, was announced as the management team for IMH in a press release Tuesday.

GEM partner Don Williams will serve as CEO and another GEM partner, Quentin Whitwell, will be president.

The announcement comes on the heels of the departure of Tim Smith, who was CEO until recently.

“With regard to Tim, I’ll share with you what we shared with the entire organization,” Williams said. “Tim invested 25 commendable years, or a little over 25 years, at IMH where he provided a valuable service both to the organization and to the community and the entire organization is extremely grateful for that service and we wish him great success in his future endeavors. It is all positive.”

Wiliams said the board of directors and the entire IMH team have worked hard in the three months since GEM was brought on to look at the many services the hospital and its staff can provide the community.

The possibility of merging with Riverside Hospital ended in February when those talks ended.

“The board and the organization had communication with Riverside as everyone is well aware, and attempted to find an avenue that was beneficial for both organizations, and frankly that avenue was unable to be established. During that time the board and the executive team made changes to the organization in preparation for what appeared to be an imminent decisions. Once those paths diverged, the stark realization was made that this is a much more viable organization than has been appreciated,” he said. “And a much more needed healthcare organization than some people may have appreciated in the past. So we were contacted because of a relationship that one of my partners, Quentin Whitwell, has with Roger (board president Dittrich) personally and the board professionally.

“Because that is our background, our experience is in working primarily in the rural healthcare world with hospitals specifically that may have some directional issues or opportunities. We were brought in to look first organizationally where we were, and with that entire focus being we need to look at the brand of IMH, who are we, what does the community need for us to be. Then once we have established that, to go back through and rightsize the organization for the growth that was needed,” he said.

“We spent the last three months doing a lot of listening to the board, to the team members, to the community….looking at documents about who this community is from a demographic perspective, a history perspective and a needs perspective. Where can we best meet the needs of this community as it continues to evolve,” Williams said.

As the group looked at rebranding, he said, they met and looked at the mission, the shared values and the program.

Some aspects, he said, are basic tenets of business. Putting some of those items on paper is part of the process.

“We established some basic mission principles that we are going to be an outstanding company, because while we are specifically focused on rural healthcare there is a business component to what we do. IMH is one of the largest employers in Iroquois County and should be taking a leadership position from a corporate perspective in this community to provide not only physical health but fiscal health to the organization and to the community at large,” he said.

“We are going to be an outstanding company by exceeding the community’s expectations and the board’s expectations. Part of that exceeding the community’s expectations is, frankly, realigning the community’s expectations, not in a demonstrative way but helping the community to understand why it’s so important for IMH to be viable. Why it is important for each citizen of Iroquois County and beyond to be viable.”

He said they are going to exceed those expectations “by empowering our people and being guided by shared values. As we look at what that requires, it requires customer focus from the time we get in the front door. From just the basic smiling faces, ‘how are you doing this morning’ to helping people throughout the customer process. Then we’ve got to have passion. One thing I can tell you in just the short time being here is that the team members at IMH are passionate about IMH and about the people of Iroquois County. We could not ask for any more engaged, passionate people about meeting the needs of the county.”

Part of empowering the organization, he said, involves a Team Iroquois meeting that gathers regularly. “We share where we are and where we’re going. It’s really an action meeting. What do we need to be doing this week to help the entire organization move forward? That’s about letting people at every level of the organization, changing to more of a right side up organization, where our customers, the citizens of the county are at the top of the pyramid and then our front line employees are the next folks of the rung. Those of us that may be sitting in this office or any other offices, we’re at the bottom to help folks. From a leadership perspective, what I’m sure you have seen historically from the leadership here of the board and the executive team is what you will continue to see emphasized is more of a servant leadership. That our role is to empower the people to take care of folks and whatever we need to do to help them achieve that is our role in the organization.

“We’ll do that with shared values,” he said. “This is not magic. These shared values should be common to man in our society, but again we need to focus on them, that our shared values are integrity and honestly and teamwork, accountability and balance. Accountability in many organizations looks like an authoritarian word, but accountability is really back to that servant leadership. As leaders we are accountable to our team and we’re accountable to the community. We expect the community and our team to hold us accountable to help them and meet their needs.”

He said they have looked at what the county needs. “We can’t be all things to all people. We don’t have the financial resources or the human resources to provide all things to all people and frankly no healthcare organization can. We had two choices: to do a lot of things marginally or do a few things excellently. What we are choosing is to try to be the best in class at a very defined role. What defines that role is really the people of Iroquois County.”

The focus, he said, can be boiled down to three areas: an aging population, women’s health and the under served. He said, “We want to be the best at this. No matter where they stand economically we’re going to try to find a way to meet their needs. We want to be the best at this.”

He also said that other healthcare providers are “compatriots” and “we wish our fellow providers great success in doing the things that they can be the best at and we want them to be the best because we can’t be the best at everything. But this we can. We can be the best at these things.”

He said they will work with other hospital groups, other organizations, look at physicians that are under contract with the hospital or specialists that need to be brought in to meet those needs. That partnership will include working with city and county leaders to get that done.

Williams also said that the county’s Iplan has emphasized two ancillary needs, which are behavioral health and substance abuse services. These are not different that other rural counties throughout the country, he said. “We still have some of the same issues and same concerns,” he said.

Taking these issues to action “starts with little things,” he said.

“The first biggie is letting everyone know that this ship is solvent. IMH is going to be here. The board of directors have made personal commitments, both with their time and their intellect and their influence from a financial perspective to right the ship financially. Does that mean that we can live the life of Riley over here? Absolutely not. But our focus is to take small steps, get our specialists, our physicians, provide the services in our hospital and also in our clinics, and make those things sustainable. We are a non-profit organization. That doesn’t mean we don’t have to make money. People forget that. They think non-profit means you don’t have to make money, but that’s the quickest way to be out of business.”

He said they are looking at everything they do internally to make sure they are doing the best they can and using prudent financial business acumen to provide the services. “That’s what we’re doing one day at a time” he said.

Williams said he is passionate about what is being done and what the board and team members are doing. “We are going to grow,” he said. “We going to be healthy and successfully providing the needs of this community where our people don’t have to worry at night and our board can sleep through the night, and not back bowed proud, but heads up proud of what this team has accomplished.” He said the board has looked at services: new services that are coming and where the revenue is going in the next 60 to 90 days. “Not a crystal ball, but an actual this has been done in other places so let’s do these things here. It will generate this revenue conservatively,” he said.

“It’s no secret that the board has restructured the debt of the organization to give great relief to the monthly commitments, which changes your paradigm from a fiscal perspective and gives you time to implement those things. So when we say the ship is righted, does it mean it is smooth sailing? No. But the board has worked incredibly diligently to put those things in place to give us the runway needed to meet that. Right-ship, not totally smooth sailing ship.”

Williams wouldn’t commit specific numbers. “If I’m on the street, a dime is a lot of money, and if I’m in Washington, D.C., a billion is nothing,” he said, noting that people can look at numbers and “see them through their eyes as opposed to this is what it is.”

Williams also noted that there are four sides to every conversation. “What you say and there’s what I hear, and there’s what I say and there’s what you hear. So there are four sides in every conversation.”

He did said that “If we did nothing different that what we’ve been doing, which is the definition of insanity you know, keep doing what you’re doing and expecting a different outcome, if we kept doing that we could stay in business for another year. So that’s not going to happen. You’re going to hear reports from within these walls in the next 60 to 90 days about some dramatic things that the board and the team have done for the employees here and for the community, because we want to be a good partner and we want to be a could corporate citizen.”

He said, “The board is committed. IMH is financially stable. The team at IMH is dedicated to providing incredible healthcare, but that we need the community. We can’t be on an island. We can’t do it alone. If IMH is going to prosper and if we are going to be what we can be and what we as a team has shared of who we can be, we’ve got to have the community engage.”

He said they want the community realize “we are them and we need each other.”

The hospital is one of the county’s largest employers with 342 employees, 248 of which are part-time. Williams said the operating room is “probably the best in the region,” he said. The mammogram machine and the CT scan are also high quality services, he said. “We have the services and we have the team to provide them, and we are getting additional providers in to meet the needs we just addressed. We just need to let folks know we are still here, we’re healthy, and we’re going to be here.”