Roy Exum: Erlanger Is Already Changing

Tuesday, May 07, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The man was talking about golf and how hard it is for a good player to make a change in the way he grips the club. “Understand, the golfer is already good but if he can roll his hands just slightly, he can not only address the ball better but it will be easier to get through the ball. You tell that to the golfer, and he knows it might help, but when it comes to actually committing to change, he about goes to pieces.”

Anyone who has ever played knows that’s true but it wasn’t a golf professional who told me that. Instead it was a man who we pray will be a master at change. Since arriving in Chattanooga on April 1st, Erlanger CEO Kevin Spiegel has spent every daylight hour – and many nights – in his quiet but relentless effort to bring Chattanooga’s largest hospital back to sure prosperity.

That speaks volumes when the latest monthly financial report showed another $5 million in losses but Spiegel hasn’t stopped running from dawn until dark. And, if I am any judge after watching the noble Baroness be embarrassed for the last 18 months, when he reveals his vision in the coming weeks the future of our region’s Level One trauma center will be brighter than ever.

There is a visible urgency around every corner at Erlanger right now but rather than create an even bigger mess with a rush, Spiegel has a method to overcome the madness. To read his daily calendar makes you tired; he’s packing 90 seconds into every minute. He’s evaluating his core team and expects to hire a chief operating officer within six months.

In a meeting with the Hamilton County Commissioners on Monday, he was emphatic he wanted their input and is arranging a breakfast at the hospital to get our county leaders more involved in “their” hospital. “It’s crazy for anyone to think their ideas and expertise don’t matter. I don’t want to have just meetings – I want a continuous dialog with our leaders.”

Spiegel is thrilled with the two most-recent appointments of Tom Edd Wilson and Jack Studer to the Board of Trustees. “I am excited because I have had so many people on the hospital staff tell me Jim Coppinger made two great choices. I have meetings scheduled with both but the fact our doctors and staff already know them is the best endorsement you can imagine.

“Part of my vision statement will include looking into the best type of 501c3 operating platform to bring us into the future and Children’s Hospital will be one of the first big projects we will tackle. It is a great asset to our three-state area and I believe our pediatricians and our nurses are capable of even greater miracles if we can get them what they need. That’s the exciting part of my job.

“I haven’t done any hiring because, in fairness, I think there are some capable people in some areas already. I need to identify those who buy in to the obvious fact we need to change the way we’ve been doing things. Yes, change is hard but to stand still is even harder. I can assure you I am talking to people that I think will make us better but I am also finding we have some real gems who are already here.”

The new CEO has been meeting and listening to every board member and admits his day starts early when he has coffee in the doctor’s lounge. “I have had a number tell me they aren’t used to seeing the CEO and I have told each of them that if they don’t see me it will only be because I have business out of town. My goal is for every doctor at this hospital to be successful, respected, and heard.”

Speigel said he wasn’t wearing rose-colored glasses when he accepted the post and “when I saw the recent headline that ‘CEO sees red after monthly budget,’ I knew the early months would be tough as I adjusted. What has happened has taken place over a period of time and there isn’t a quick fix.

“Our $25 million upgrade in surgery is going to be wonderful but, like anything else, it takes time to build anything the right way. There are so many good and exciting things that are going to happen. You have my word on it. I believe the upcoming vision statement will include some things that will mean a lot to both our employees and our patients,” he added.

It’s called change. Some good golfers struggle mightily with it. Kevin Speigel relishes in it.

royexum@aol.com


Worse And Worser

We hear a lot about voter apathy, citizens of this, the greatest nation to ever grace the face of Planet Terra, these United States of America, who fail to take advantage of their right, nay, accept their responsibility to participate in government of this great nation. How many of us know citizens who don't vote? Worse yet, how many of us know citizens who aren't even registered ... (click for more)

Howley Has New Ideas And New Energy For Signal Mountain

Over the last several years, I have had the opportunity to serve with Chris Howley on the Signal Mountain Recreation Advisory Board.  During this time, I obtained an insight into the qualities that make Chris Howley an outstanding candidate to serve on the Signal Mountain Town Council.Chris has spent countless hours on the board overseeing the numerous recreation leagues and ... (click for more)

Chickamauga Lock To Reopen As Soon As Next Thursday

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District  plans to reopen Chickamauga Lock to all navigation traffic as early as next Thursday. An inspection of the upper gate anchorage and a repair plan were completed today. Chickamauga Lock closed on Monday after a routine inspection revealed a crack in the anchorage of the upper gate. Lt. Col. John Hudson, commander ... (click for more)

Downtown Chattanooga Apartment Complex That Brought $3 Million Profit Exempt From Most Taxes Until 2022 Under PILOT

A downtown Chattanooga apartment complex that recently was sold at a $3 million profit is exempt from most property taxes through 2022 under a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement.   No payment of school taxes was included in the deal for Walnut Commons at Walnut Street and Aquarium Way.   The only taxes due on the property for the next eight ... (click for more)

GPS Advances To Division IIAA Soccer Championship

MURFREESBORO - GPS defeated Brentwood Academy 3-0 to advance to the finals of the TSSAA Division II-AA soccer tournament.   The Bruisers scored one first half goal in the 38th minute off the foot of senior Lindsay Rufolo.   Fourteen minutes into the second half Emily Large added the first of two insurance goals. Six minutes later at the 60-minute mark Catherine ... (click for more)

Hixson Clinches 6-AA Title With Shutout Over Brainerd

Just about any coach will tell you that winning ugly is always better than winning pretty. Such was the case at Hixson Community Stadium on a frigid Halloween night as the host Wildcats finished off their regular season with a 19-0 win over the Brainerd Panthers. Hixson improves to 8-2 overall and 6-0 in District 6-AA while Brainerd is now 3-7 overall and 3-3 in 6-AA. It ... (click for more)