Making a connection: 4 thoughts from William Kenley, CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital

William Kenley knows how to confront challenges.

As CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown (Tenn.) Hospital, Mr. Kenley is leading the way as the hospital redesigns care to meet the demands of higher patient volumes and improves healthcare in a socioeconomically diverse community.

Mr. Kenley has held the CEO position since 2009. He has also served as CEO of Memphis, Tenn.-based Methodist North Hospital, Springfield, Tenn.-based NorthCrest Medical Center and Norton (Va.) Community Hospital.

Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital is a 309-bed hospital facility based in a southeastern suburb of Memphis with a population of approximately 40,000.

Here Mr. Kenley weighs in on the Le Bonheur community, connecting with patients and his summer reading.

Question: What's a new challenge you're facing?

William Kenley: It's not so much a new challenge, but it's an evolved challenge. We've always been a high-volume facility and the hospital provider of choice in the area we serve. Recently we've seen our volume uptick more in every area of our business. That's been a surprise for us.

To face this challenge, we have immediate plans and longer-term plans.

People are always reticent to do more capital projects, so we're trying to get more turns out of the assets we have, particularly those related to patient flow. Without the increased turns we've had, we would not be able to handle the patient volume that currently wants to come to this facility. Going forward, we're looking at retasking some of the spaces in our facility more toward patient needs.

From a longer-term basis, we have plans to expand our square footage, primarily around some service package development. We're working with Le Bonheur Children's Hospital to bring a more focused, integrated pediatric service onto our campus. We're also adding more space for outpatients who may be in the hospital for extended periods of time.

Q: What was the last memorable thing you read?

WK: Over the 4th of July, I reread Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley.

Bradley's father was one of the soldiers who raised the flag over Iwo Jima. He didn't know about it until after his father's death because his father never talked about his role in the war. It led him to learn more about his father.

I actually reread it with my 17-year-old son. It gave us some time to talk about the philosophies in the book and links to patriotism, commitment and honor. It's a phenomenal read and I highly recommend it.

Q: What is interesting about your market?

WK: We have a very competitive market filled with multiple players and competitors. Before I arrived, the market had become very steered through exclusive contracting. Most of the country went through a phase where that changed, but we never did. In fact, we're now building on our position to focus the product offerings even more. We never went away from that strongly steered marketplace and it positions us effectively to partner with our stakeholders to drive even higher value.

We're also incredibly socioeconomically diverse. Where we're located, in 30 minutes you can drive from a zip code that's one of the most affluent in the country to a zip code that's one of the most impoverished in the country. It presents a unique challenge and opportunity in [meeting] our mission.

Q: What is one phrase you think we should use more in healthcare?

WK: "Making a connection."

Making a connection just isn't something that's thought about and used enough today in healthcare, but we’re focusing on doing so. Patients and families are starving to have a relationship with their providers. Particularly in some areas like cancer treatment, you hear about patients having navigators. But making a connection isn't just important in the more complex things — it's important with every healthcare interaction.

Our team is very focused on making that connection with our patients and families. We're very grateful and humble about the wonderful feedback we receive. Patients and their families commonly share how the experience at Methodist Le Bonheur Germantown Hospital is different. This "difference" is built upon the connections we make.

I believe making a connection is one of the things that people get in to healthcare for. The members of our team got into healthcare to help people. They deliver and receive great value by connecting with those we serve. This is what inspires and motivates us to put forth the focus, attitude, and effort required to honor the commitments that are placed with us every day.

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