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CEO reshaping The Memorial Hospital

After a rocky beginning, George Rohrich, TMH 'turning a corner'

George Rohrich, chief executive officer at The Memorial Hospital in Craig, has implemented a series of changes in his five months on the job. The changes, designed to do everything from boost staff morale to bolster sagging finances, have brought stability to a hospital that was shaken months ago by the claims of a former chief of staff.
John Henry

It’s March 29 and George Rohrich – the newly minted chief executive officer at The Memorial Hospital in Craig – is silently watching as his hospital is being torn apart by bitter in-fighting.

His seven-member board of trustees is trying to keep control of an out-of-control meeting. Their source of frustration – a former chief of staff who’s lobbing pointed criticisms at the board, administrators, medical staff and hospital policies.

Those criticisms eventually plunged the hospital into a two-month internal investigation. Outside of exposing a few procedural flaws, the investigation largely exonerated TMH of Dr. Michael Crane’s claims.



Rohrich, who’s been on the job for all of three days, interjects a few times during the meeting. He keeps his comments short and to the point. His silence, however, is misleading.

Because underneath, he’s quietly thinking, what have I gotten myself into?



“Nobody expected that in my first days on the job,” Rohrich said.

“Certainly it was a very volatile situation. It was an unusual time when I started. : It was hard to hold your head up high and be proud. Sometimes it wasn’t so easy.

“I couldn’t imagine (things) getting any worse.”

Fixing the flaws

As the saying goes, time heals all wounds.

Fast forward to today, and it certainly has at TMH, where Rohrich and hospital staff have moved past the trying times brought on by the stormy end of Crane’s tenure with the hospital. Crane no longer works at TMH.

In recent months, Rohrich – a 30-year leader in health care management and a former administrator at hospitals in Wyoming, North Dakota and at U.S. Air Force installations around the world – has spearheaded a movement to repair morale, the bad publicity brought on by Crane’s allegations and restructure priorities at TMH.

He also sought to remove any secrecy at the hospital. Now, he said, the only matters discussed privately are issues relating to personnel because the law requires them to be debated behind closed doors.

“Things have gotten better, and it’s actually happened a lot quicker than I imagined,” he said. “I think we’re pulling together. I think we’ve turned a corner.”

Rohrich has ushered in a series of changes in the administrative structure at TMH. The hospital now has personnel designated to monitor and improve service excellence and quality and, after a slow couple of months, hospital finances are starting to rebound.

Throw in progress being made on a long-planned new hospital project – engineers are working on designing infrastructure improvements at a 15-acre site in west Craig – and the picture of TMH is looking much brighter than the blighted canvass of several months ago.

“This hospital has so much potential,” Rohrich said. “The staff is wonderful. This hospital has had some ups and downs, but we’re getting healthy again. I really think we’re getting to where we want to be.

“Things are clicking. You can feel it in the hallways.”

A new hope

TMH isn’t where Rohrich wants it to be.

Yet.

He has placed a renewed emphasis on service, quality, customer and medical staff satisfaction and growth.

“We’re pursuing lots of opportunities for improvement,” he said.

When asked of his vision for the future of the hospital, Rohrich lays out an ambitious set of goals. Goals, keep in mind, he said are attainable for TMH.

“My vision looks like a couple of things,” he said. “(I’d like it) if people would not hesitate or suggest going anywhere except this hospital for the care they need and the care we provide. (I’d like) a waiting list of people who want to come work here.

“(I’d like) for us to be recognized for the quality of work we’re doing.

“Is it possible? Absolutely. But, none of this is like flipping a switch. They’re all going to take time.”

And, Rohrich said, time is exactly what he has at TMH. When he began his tenure at the hospital in March, he said he viewed the CEO job as a final destination.

He hasn’t swayed from that desire.

“This isn’t a ladder step for me,” Rohrich said. “I have high hopes and expectations for the future of this hospital.”


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