Eugene Woods is no one-hit wonder.
It took Woods less than three years to turn around the fortunes of a U.S. Virgin Islands hospital that he once said "had so much trouble we had difficulty purchasing blood," so it's not surprising he was able to do the same at St. Joseph HealthCare in Lexington, Ky.
In August, Woods was promoted from president and chief executive officer of four-hospital St. Joseph to CEO of a new organization formed by its parent, Catholic Health Initiatives, Denver, that includes all of the system's seven Kentucky hospitals. The organization will begin operating in January.
Before his latest assignment, Woods had been the president and CEO of St. Joseph for less than three years. But you wouldn't know that from reading the list of his accomplishments during that time.
Having worked at four different hospitals and health systems in the past decade, he has learned how to acclimate and achieve results expeditiously, his colleagues say. “It was amazing how quickly he came up to speed in a new organization,” says Gary Campbell, senior vice president and group executive officer at CHI, whose 54 hospitals include four-hospital St. Joseph HealthCare. “After six months, it was like he had been there five years,” he says.
Under Woods' leadership, St. Joseph acquired Berea (Ky.) Hospital and made it profitable, turning around more than a decade of losses. Woods has also worked to secure a certificate of need for Jessamine County's first emergency room, according to Jeff Murphy, a St. Joseph spokesman, which is scheduled to open in 2008 in Nicholasville, Ky. The system has announced more than $70 million
worth of expansions and renovations at 116-bed St. Joseph Hospital East, Lexington, and 41-bed St. Joseph Berea, following an $85 million renovation and expansion at 343-bed St. Joseph Hospital, Lexington. In addition to his new role, Woods will continue to head St. Joseph until its board names a successor.
“He's got an amazing ability to juggle a lot of balls at once,” Campbell says. Woods, 43, has juggled his share of honors and accolades, too. He was named an Up & Comer in 2001 at age 37, when he had been CEO of Roy Lester Schneider Hospital in St. Thomas, U.S Virgin Islands, for three years and had just left to begin a job as vice president of clinical services at Washington Hospital Center in the nation's capital.
He had worked there for only a few days on Sept. 11, 2001, when the hospital received the burn victims from the attack on the Pentagon. Woods was also included in Modern Healthcare's list of Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare in 2006, by which time he had joined St. Joseph. Earlier this year, he was selected as the regent for Kentucky by the American College of Healthcare Executives.
The recently announced integration—which is expected to bring 52-bed Flaget Memorial Hospital in Bardstown, 87-bed Marymount Medical Center in London, and 25-bed Our Lady of the Way Hospital in Martin together with St. Joseph's hospitals—will be another test of Woods' relationship skills. “His participation in helping that transition looms very large,” Campbell says. When the hospitals come together, Kentucky will represent the second-largest “market-based organization” within CHI, he added.
Woods said in a news release that he was “deeply humbled by the privilege of serving this new organization as we enter a very exciting phase to fundamentally transform the way care is delivered in Kentucky.”
Sounds like it should be music to patients' ears.