Congratulations to Alta Vista Regional Hospital’s new chief executive officer, Maridel Acosta, who, after about three months as interim CEO, now takes the reins on a more permanent basis. We wish her well.
We anticipate she will be welcomed as an important leader in our city, since the local hospital is such a critical element to the area’s quality of life. And she’s off to a good start, having been introduced to the community through her interim position. So far she’s left a good impression.
One big sticking point, however, is the hospital’s refusal to recognize a years-old union vote. Alta Vista’s parent, Tennessee-based Community Health Systems, has proven itself to be a staunch opponent to any sort of union organizing, having fought at every turn a 2007 workers’ vote to unionize. Many have criticized such obstinance, including this newspaper, but CHS has held firm to its position through two previous CEOs — and we imagine nothing will change under Acosta.
That said, we realize that there’s a bigger issue at stake — the quality of care at Alta Vista. The hospital has a mixed reputation when it comes to the health care it provides — some former patients decry the care they receive and vow never to return; others praise the hospital and its staff for the excellent care they received. Certainly everyone would feel better if more praise and fewer complaints were issued by those who experience Alta Vista’s service up close and personally.
Perhaps, in this quest to provide better care, the hospital needs to focus on two things. One is the recruitment of qualified and capable professionals (something that former CEO Richard Grogan did well). But the other is a little more abstract and, in a sense, more important: the hospital’s “bedside manner.”
It’s understood that a hospital needs competent doctors and specialists, but also important is a willingness and a determination to treat all patients as well as possible. That includes a strong response to their and their family’s concerns — from something as important has sitting and answering all their questions thoroughly and in a language lay people understand, to something as simple as a quick response when a patient pushes the “nurse” button and ask for some ice.
Of course, to provide such quality, Acosta will have to have a good working partnership with her staff — with or without union representation. Preliminary reports indicate she has a passion to improve the hospital’s quality of care. We hope she succeeds.