Dr. Lloyd Ford, a graduate of the CalSouthern School of Business’s doctoral program, has been named CEO of the Riverview Regional Medical Center, located in Gadsden, Al.
Prior to his current position, Dr. Ford served as CEO of Jefferson Health System in Crystal City, Mo., a 250-bed regional medical facility serving the St. Louis area. He also has worked as CEO of Muhlenberg Community Hospital in Greenville, Ky., and as Chief Operating Officer at Havasu Regional Medical Center in Lake Havasu City, Az. Dr. Ford brings more than 20 years of health-care experience ranging from consulting to executive management of health-care systems both non-profit and for-profit.
CalSouthern caught up with Dr. Ford and spoke with him at length about the health-care industry, his new opportunity, and his experience at CalSouthern.
CalSouthern: What drew you to the health-care industry initially, and what is it about the work that you find most rewarding or enjoyable?
Dr. Ford: Actually, I was always one of those people that hated hospitals. Early in my career, I was a facility engineer, designing federal buildings for the military. One day, I made the acquaintance of a CEO of a health-care facility, and he persuaded me to work for him as a director of support services. I learned the business from the ground up and eventually rose to the level of CEO.
I’ve come to love the industry. I tend to get bored rather easily, but not in health care. There’s always a new challenge and every day is different. And when your neighbor walks up to you and says, “Your hospital saved my life, and now I’m able to spend more time with my grandchildren”—well, that’s why you do it. One hundred percent success isn’t possible, but it’s what we strive for. And if you can save a life or, in some cases, just give someone one more day to live, it’s incredibly gratifying.
CalSouthern: How did the opportunity at Riverview come about?
Dr. Ford: I am frequently recruited by different facilities, but this one was special. They have really set up an organization that will allow me—and the hospital—to prosper. They were looking for someone with a reputation for relationship-building with physicians and staff; they wanted to foster positive change in the culture here, and that’s what I do.
CalSouthern: What are your immediate goals for the facility?
Dr. Ford: That’s easy: I want Riverview to be the number-one hospital in terms of quality of care, and I want it to be the best place to work in the region.
CalSouthern: How has your CalSouthern degree benefitted you in your career?
Dr. Ford: It’s been extremely beneficial in a number of different ways. First, it has helped with my relationships with the physicians. Of course, my doctorate is not an MD, but the physicians respect the degree. In many respects, my dealings with them are peer-to-peer, doctor-to-doctor.
Also, my doctoral project was about how health care executives can foster successful relationships with physicians in the 21st century. That work equipped me with insight that has helped me immeasurably. People see that I appreciate physician and colleague satisfaction, and that means a lot in this industry, one that has historically experienced significant fragmentation between the administration and the physicians. It’s given me credibility: I’m not just saying it; I’ve researched it. I’ve done it.
CalSouthern: What are your most powerful memories of your CalSouthern experience?
Dr. Ford: Most of them center around the preparation and defense of my doctoral project. It’s such an intense project and so different than anything else I’ve done. It was incredibly challenging, and tedious at times, but it helped me realize that this is what I love to do. It really reinformed my interests and passion in the field.
CalSouthern: Do you have any advice for current or prospective CalSouthern Learners?
Dr. Ford: Don’t let anyone say you can’t do it and don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way—job or family obligations included. There’s enough flexibility built into CalSouthern’s online program to allow you to succeed, whatever your personal situation.
Use your family as an asset. Let them support you and—occasionally—challenge you. I remember my wife walking by my office one day and saying, “That big stack of research has been sitting on your desk for quite awhile now. You’re never going to finish.” My doctoral project was completed three days later!
Also, find a Faculty Mentor that inspires you and rely on them.
Finally, do what you want to do. Work hard and have fun doing it.