Longmont United’s Chad Hatfield focuses on staff, community

LONGMONT — As the new CEO of Longmont United Hospital, Chad Hatfield is finding in his talks with staff that they consider Longmont to be home.

“Not Longmont proper; they’re talking about Longmont United Hospital,” said Hatfield, who was named CEO in August 2022 of the 186-bed hospital. “(The fact) some were born in the hospital and worked here the majority of their careers is just phenomenal.”

Hatfield and his wife, Tessa, plus their three children, initially wanted to relocate to Tessa’s home state of Arizona. She had attended high school in Longmont. They came across the opportunity to lead a Centura Health hospital in Longmont and decided to make the city their home. Hatfield succeeded interim CEO Chris Thomson, who held the post since April after Dr. Christina Johnson left the position.

“It just felt like a good fit,” Hatfield said. “Centura is a great system to work with, one of the top when it comes to supporting its staff and its communities.”

As soon as he started leading Longmont United, Hatfield felt assured by the staff’s commitment to the community and to the hospital, he said. As such, he has three primary goals for 2023 focused on staffing and programming to continue to grow the hospital and move it forward, in an environment where hiring and retaining staff is difficult.

First, Hatfield wants to focus on recruiting physicians and specialists, since the hospital is increasing staff to plan for future growth in Longmont. For 2023, he aims to bring on 10 to 12 new staff physicians in the areas of primary care, gastroenterology, neurology, general surgery and OB/GYN. Second, he wants to maintain the hospital’s existing safety and quality care program, measured, in part, by a Straight A Leapfrog rating for transparency in care. 

“We have to continue that and build on the tradition of high quality, safe, reliable care,” Hatfield said.

Hatfield’s third goal is to increase employee engagement through open communication, such as a weekly newsletter, forums within the hospital and a robust rounding schedule regularly meeting with staff.

“We want to make sure we’re able to take care of staff so they can take care of our patients and our community,” Hatfield said.

Longmont United is going through a few additional changes as Hatfield comes on board, including a modernization remodel of the lobby and cafeteria completed in January and the building of an outpatient medical oncology clinic slated to open by midsummer (it will have four private rooms). The clinic will increase access post-pandemic as more patients seek outpatient services. 

“We’ve got to focus on high-quality care and make sure everyone has access at the community level,” Hatfield said.

Another change in health care affecting Longmont United is a move toward improved technology and implementing the latest technological advances in health care facilities. Centura is addressing those changes at its newest hospital in Colorado Springs that will serve as a testing model. Some of the advances there will include smart devices and apps that will be used by staff and patients for increased access, better tracking and real-time data.

Hatfield also plans to work closely with the National Nurses United union that came on board in April 2022 to continue to provide whole-person care for patients coming to the hospital.

“Whether there’s a union or not, we’re neighbors serving neighbors,” Hatfield said. “High-quality care will continue. I don’t think a nursing union would change that in any way or have any negative impact on the care we provide.”

Longmont United is responding by bringing on nursing staff internally through tuition reimbursements and adding residency programs for new nurses, just rolled out in the last few months, Hatfield said. 

“What I like about health care is the fact that every day I have the opportunity to make a difference in somebody’s life … in a positive way,” Hatfield said. “It’s so diverse, and you feel the impact on a daily basis.” 

“Chad is truly supportive of the leaders and staff at LUH,” said Alison Bruckner, chief nursing officer at Longmont United. “He goes above and beyond to make sure we take care of ourselves so we can take care of others. Chad is committed to supporting LUH in providing excellent quality care for our community.” 

Hal Bagley, board chairman, said, “Chad has an excellent strategic focus and engages personally in recruiting physicians integral to our future.”

Hatfield became interested in health care after growing up in a small West Virginia town that had a community hospital. His father and grandfather were coal miners, a cyclical business contrary to a hospital that represented a steady force, he said.

“We always knew the local hospital was there, taking care of the local community no matter what happened in the community,” Hatfield said. “I wanted to be in a position to ensure health care was available.”

Hatfield, who’s worked in the health care field for 20-plus years, earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in health service administration from West Virginia University Institute of Technology and Virginia Commonwealth University-Medical College of Virginia, respectively. He worked in rural areas and large cities, managing small and large organizations, including new acquisitions and multi-site locations. His work ranged from small, critical access, rural hospitals to large tertiary-care hospitals and from 25 to 300 beds.

Hatfield’s experience includes serving as CEO at Northwest Medical Center in Tucson, a 300-bed tertiary hospital; vice president for regional hospitals at the Northeast Georgia Health System, based in Gainesville, Georgia; and CEO of the Barrow Regional Medical Center, a 56-bed hospital in the greater Atlanta area.

Hatfield often is asked if it’s easier to lead a small or a large hospital, and he’s found both come with challenges. Small hospitals may only have one physician in a specialty area and few resources, while large hospitals require effectively managing a large number of resources and a large staff, he said.

“I can’t say I prefer one or the other, because they’re both challenging in both respects,” Hatfield said. “Right now health care isn’t easy. … We’re several years out from getting back to a new normal post-pandemic.”

Hatfield has a few hobbies outside the hospital, including going to the gym, cycling and traveling. 

Source: BizWest

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