Dan Jones Jr., recipient of the American College of Healthcare Executives' 2006 Robert S. Hudgens Memorial Award for young healthcare executive of the year, says he always knew he had an affinity for the healthcare business.
Jones, 36, chief executive officer of 213-bed Independence (Mo.) Regional Health Center, and 123-bed Medical Center of Independence, grew up in a healthcare-oriented family with a pharmacist father.
After receiving his bachelor's degree from Randolph-Macon College and a master's degree in healthcare administration from Virginia Commonwealth University, Jones combined two internships at hospitals and melded them into a career in the healthcare business.
Although his passion for the business side of healthcare initially piqued his interests, Jones is most proud of his relationships with physicians and his successes with medical staffs at the various hospitals he's served.
"Hospitals always have a kind word to say about my relationships with the medical staff," Jones says.
Margaret Lewis, president of HCA's central Atlantic division in Richmond, Va., hired Jones in 2001 as chief operating officer of 758-bed CJW Medical Center in Richmond, Va., and says he values the relationships made with physicians.
"He's a straight shooter, delivers his word and establishes immediate credibility with physicians," Lewis says. Lewis describes Jones as a person who "works hard and plays hard," who was "a lot of fun to work with, which was a nice bonus."
"He was a very solid operator," Lewis says. "Not only did he have vision, he executes, which is a nice combination."
According to Lewis, Jones operated the medical staff at CJW through a team approach, building a good infrastructure.
"He takes on tough medical staff issues, and got leadership to champion those issues that wouldn't have gotten resolved without him," Lewis says.
While improving employee engagement, Jones says he's also proud of leading a project to build a hospital in Independence to replace and consolidate his two institutions. Jones gained support from community leaders in order to achieve a certificate of need from Missouri to build the new facility.
"One of the Achilles' heels for patient care in Missouri are the 'ma and pop' hospitals that don't have enough resources to track physicians," Jones says.
The new 257-bed facility will provide eastern Jackson County residents with updated patient technology and specialists in orthopedics, cardiology and neurology.
Designed to be easily accessible to residents, the hospital will be located near the intersection of two interstate highways and beside a mall. Jones says the new hospital will also "create a more efficient workshop for physicians" and provide more jobs in healthcare. "I expect it to really set the standard for the hospital environment and for the patient experience, and how healthcare is delivered," Jones says.
Bryan Rogers, president of HCA Midwest Health System and Jones' boss since 2004, says the CEO received an 8-0 approval vote for the project, which is set to be completed by mid-2007.
"He has shown excellent leadership skills in putting the culture of the two hospitals together," Rogers says. "He did a wonderful job of going through the process of getting the certificate of need from Missouri."
As part of his community involvement, Jones is a member of the Missouri Hospital Association, where he helps promote a healthcare legislative agenda.
Jones also spends his spare time mentoring future healthcare leaders and has served as a board member for the Regional Drug Free Alliance, Prevent Child Abuse Virginia, Communities in Schools and the Independence Chamber of Commerce, and was a member of the Brandermill Rotary Club.
"He's an incredibly hard worker, very focused, and has done a wonderful job in getting to know the employees," Rogers says.
Jones-who has also served as COO of Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans, and in administrative roles for St. Charles General Hospital in New Orleans and Tenet Physician Services in Metairie, La.-hopes the future of healthcare will focus more on improving patient care, making it a more pleasant experience for patients and their families.
"I hope the industry will continue to focus on patient care and the outcomes we're capable of delivering," Jones says, "continuing to focus and improve also the level of care-not just episodic but the whole patient-care experience."
On receiving the Hudgens award from the ACHE, Jones says he was "absolutely floored" when he heard. "I'm absolutely flattered and humbled by the recognition," Jones says. "It's a privilege just to be recognized."