MBQ CEO of the Year Awards, 1000+ Employees
Dr. Reginald Coopwood, MBQ CEO Award Winner, 1000+ Employees
MBQ CEO of the Year Winner, 1000+ Employees:
Dr. Reginald Coopwood, Regional One Health
Today, Dr. Reginald Coopwood is CEO of Regional One Health, formerly the Regional Medical Center at Memphis (The MED). But Coopwood started out as a surgeon. “I loved doing surgery,” Coopwood says. “When it’s time to make that incision, everyone is focused on the patient and you’re the leader in the room. The surgeon is the conductor of all the moving parts. You’re at the center but everyone is moving together.”
The same personality traits that led him to being a surgeon have served him as an administrator. “I can be CEO because I can effect change.”
If ever there was a place that needed a change, it was The MED in the first decade of the twenty-first century. The public hospital with a Level 1 Trauma Center is the safety-net facility for a 150-mile radius. That means the most dire medical cases in a multistate region wind up at The MED. It also means that the hospital will treat those patients regardless of insurance coverage. Because it receives funds from a number of state and local governments, and those entities were going through budgetary crises, The MED wasn’t getting the money it needed to operate effectively. It was losing patients at an alarming rate, was a money loser, and news headlines reported nearly daily on the hospital’s somber situation.
Coopwood’s first days on the job were challenging. The management company that had been running The MED did good work to stop the bleeding. Nevertheless, as scheduled on February 28, 2010, the CEO, CFO, COO, CNO, and CMO of The MED walked out the door and the next day Coopwood walked in as the only member of administration.
Coopwood’s plan was seemingly simple. The cuts had been made by the management firm, so now it was time to grow. “One of the things that I learned and fully believe is that you can’t cut yourself to prosperity,” he says. New revenue streams have been created by expanding services and, crucially, revenue was protected by improving customer service and making sure that patients who came to The MED who could afford to transfer when they recovered, didn’t.
The four years prior to his arrival, The MED lost money; $20 million dollars in 2009. His first full fiscal year, The MED made $17 million from operations. Coopwood deflects credit. “The best asset The MED had was the people.”
His work is just beginning, and where The MED, now Regional One Health, is headed may surprise some. For starters, they want to be a hospital of choice, competing with other health systems in Memphis, such as Baptist, Methodist, and Saint Francis.
Regional One Health is replacing its campus, and ultimately it aims to rank in the class with academic hospitals nationally, such as Ochsner, the Mayo Clinic, and Vanderbilt. But the future has already started. “We want to be a hospital of choice even before we get the new building,” Coopwood says.