When Rick Schroeder is asked to talk about himself, he much prefers to talk about the great team he works with at North Big Horn Hospital and the New Horizons Care Center.
Schroeder was named one of “50 Rural Hospital CEOs to Know” in the latest issue of Becker’s Hospital Review, a monthly trade publication for hospitals and health care professionals published in Chicago.
Becker’s released its inaugural list of the rural hospital CEOs this week, noting in a press release that “rural healthcare leaders face certain challenges that are not present in more urban environments.
“For instance,” the release continued, “only about 10 percent of physicians practice in rural areas,” according to a 2010 report prepared by the Southwest Rural Health Research Center, “which can lead to physician shortages. Additionally, rural residents tend to be poorer, leading to payer mix issues.”
According to Becker, the list recognizes rural hospital and health system presidents and CEOs who have shown commitment to providing high quality, accessible care to their patient populations in the face of those and other rural health challenges, the release states.
Leaders included on the list were selected for awards they have received, membership or involvement in prominent local, state or national organizations, recent accomplishments in their community and their organization’s recent performance.
Schroeder is one of two CEOs from Wyoming named in Becker’s rural CEO list. Also honored was Vickie Diamond, president and CEO of the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper.
A busy man
If involvement is the key to making the list, it’s easy to see why Schroeder was recognized. He is chairman of the Wyoming Hospital Association Board of Directors and chairman of the Wyoming Critical Access Hospitals Network.
In May of 2013, he was honored in Washington, D.C. by the American Hospital Association with the Grass Roots Champion Award for engaging federal and state lawmakers in issues important to the healthcare field. He was in Washington as recently as last week attending the National Rural Hospital Association Policy Institute, meeting with Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, among others.
Schroeder also served on the boards of Lovell Inc. economic development and Big Horn Basin Counseling, is a First Counselor in the bishopric of the Lovell First Ward of the LDS Church and volunteers at the Hyart Theatre and in other community activities. He said with all of the boards he sits on at the state and national level, it is nice to volunteer for things locally without having to be on the board.
Schroeder was hired as the North Big Horn Hospital CEO and the Licensed Nursing Home Administrator for the New Horizons Care Center in 2009, and he, staff members and the hospital board are busy working in the planning stages of a construction and renovation project at the facility that will impact the clinic, emergency room and the physical and occupational therapy departments at the hospital if the project comes to pass.
Schroeder said he was surprised when his boss, Billings Clinic Regional Vice President and CFO Kyle Gee, notified him last Wednesday that he had received the Becker’s Hospital Review accolades, and he acknowledged the honor as a team effort involving many at the hospital and care center.
He said he is very excited about the Studer Group the hospital and care center recently became engaged with to focus on improving the patient experience, provider experience and staff experience at the Lovell facility.
“It takes the subjective and makes it objective,” he said of the Studer program. It makes our work engaging. It’s very exciting. It’s amazing and revitalizing and makes you want to come to work and make a difference every day.”
He said Tracey Walker is doing a great job with the Studer Group program as quality control director for the hospital.
Schroeder said the hospital is also six months into a Patient Centered Medical Home program, which helps the hospital providers and staff be more proactive in patients’ health in the areas of diabetes, body mass index and hypertension.
“The focus is on keeping patients healthy rather than reacting when they get sick,” he said. “Our providers are doing a great job with the program. They’ve really embraced it. They’re developing strategies to keep patients healthy rather than waiting until they don’t feel well.”
He said North Big Horn Clinic Manager Dede Wardell is a doing a great job coordinating the program.
North Big Horn Hospital also received a grant recently for a mobile clinic that will allow the hospital to take healthcare to neighboring communities and employers for basic tests and screenings.
“We have a lot going on, but we want to keep our eye on the target to always get better,” Schroeder said. “We want to continue to have the community’s trust and stay relevant in health care and provide quality care.
“We tell employees that every job here is an important job and everyone has an important role to fill.”
Schroeder said the hospital may treat thousands of patients but prefers to look at it as one patient at a time.
“Each person is an individual and deserves our undivided attention every time,” he said. “Healthcare isn’t a job, it’s our passion.”
By David Peck