Becker's 12th Annual Meeting Speaker Series: 3 Questions with Holly McCormack DNP, RN, Chief Executive Officer, Cottage Hospital

Holly McCormack DNP, RN, serves as Chief Executive Officer at Cottage Hospital. 

Holly will serve on the panel "Top Challenges That Rural Facilities Face and What to Do About Them" at Becker's Hospital Review 12th Annual Meeting. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place in Chicago from April 25-28, 2022. 

To learn more about the conference and Holly's session, click here.

Q: What are your top priorities for 2022?

Holly McCormack: The top priorities for 2022 have to be workforce development and fiscally recovering from the pandemic's toll. To some degree, these two topics go hand in hand. Employers everywhere are struggling with workforce issues. This struggle is not regional, and it is not exclusive to healthcare. For our Critical Access Hospital (CAH), we know we cannot compete with the salary and benefits packages offered by some of the larger academic facilities in the area. What we can do, is provide an environment and a culture that is supportive and inclusive.

For this reason, culture is a priority for our senior team. We ask ourselves what we can do to ensure our staff feels appreciated and valued. How can we ensure these actions are embedded in our day-to-day? They must be part of the culture.

Fiscal recovery is the next priority. I am very concerned with the topic of Medicare Sequestration. Expenses have grown exponentially since the onset of the pandemic. A decrease in our Medicare payments will make providing health services to our rural community even more difficult. Naturally, we need to do what we can to decrease expenses on our own, such as creating a stable staff with less reliance on travel and locum staffing. We also need to reinvigorate our teams. Fostering innovation is an essential part of organizational culture and will be necessary as we evaluate existing and new service lines and other sources of revenue.

Q: What will the lasting legacy of COVID-19 be on the healthcare system?

HM: Covid-19 has impacted the healthcare system in so many ways. The pandemic has caused many to leave the healthcare arena. The stress and burnout our healthcare heroes feel are unfathomable. The angst of waking up and going to work to fight an unknown enemy early on and the exhaustion that exists now from the fight some two years later has caused so many to leave the workforce. As a CEO and an RN, I hope to create a work environment that feels safe and supportive so that those who had to step away might come back. This novel virus was a novel experience for all of us. Healthcare providers have practiced and drilled pandemic response in emergency preparedness training. What took us most by surprise is that this turned out to be a marathon, or perhaps an ultra marathon and not a quick sprint. We had to learn quickly, communicate efficiently and be nimble, but we also have had to endure and persevere. At various points in the pandemic, we developed and edited policies daily. Two years later, we improved our efficiency and communications due to our endured challenges.

Q: What advice do you have for emerging healthcare leaders today?

HM: My advice to emerging leaders is to surround yourself with a diverse team of varied backgrounds. Take the time to learn everyone's strengths. Allow them each to step forward and shine. Create a culture in your organization where feedback and questions are valued and encouraged at all levels. I am learning that it takes time to build that level of trust. I am confident that the time spent will pay dividends in the end.

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