East Cooper Medical Center: Evan Ray, Chief Operations Officer

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In April of 2010, a new hospital was opened in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. The facility replaces the original East Cooper Hospital which opened its doors in 1986. The process of moving took the hospital from a two-story, 125,000 square foot building to a five-story, 250,000 square foot building. Located in a suburb of Charleston, East Cooper serves a population of approximately 100,000.

All services from the old hospital were transferred directly to the new. As well, two new service lines were added; interventional radiology as well as a level II neonatal intensive care unit. “From a key service line perspective, we are very much surgically oriented,” says Evan Ray, Chief Operations Officer who joined East Cooper in August of 2009. “We have a well recognized and renowned spine program. We also have an emphasis in colorectal surgery, as well as plastic surgery. We like to consider ourselves a women’s hospital. We do a tremendous amount of breast reconstruction surgery, obstetrical care, and gynecological care..”

New and Improved

Upon entering, the new East Cooper facility has more of a Ritz-Carlton aesthetic appeal than a traditional hospital. The gems of the hospital, however, are within the surgical suites.

The hospital is one of only a handful, for instance, that use the LiveData program in the operating rooms. LiveData gathers critical information from diverse systems and displays it on screens in the operating room. Combining that with technology from Karl Storz Endoscopy, a leader in minimally invasive endoscopic technology, the surgical team will have a complete picture of what is going on in the operating room as it is happening.

Another change is the new electronic medical record. “It will be implemented into our emergency room September 1, which is definitely going to improve the efficiency and quality of care for our ER patients,” saysRay. “We have spent a significant amount of dollars on technology for the community and that was all part of the new hospital project.”

Since they are located right next to the Atlantic Ocean, the building was also designed to withstand hurricane force winds. The hospital’s power plant is located on the second floor rather than the first to minimize problems if flooding occurs. “Really, the design was made with natural weather disaster in mind. It is very well thought out and we are the safety net for the community if there’s a hurricane that hits the coast of Charleston.”

A Community of Partners

There was a time when the operations officer of a hospital might have solely been focused on engineering and support. “I think now you see the COO really getting involved in business development; looking at how you can grow market share and increase the number of patients served,” says Ray.

Evan thinks of himself as partnering with the different audiences that make up a hospital. There is the board of directors, a community board of directors, both employed and independent medical staff members, and employees of the hospital with different skill sets. “I think first and foremost–to be successful with this role or any other role–is to work with people and understand that their experience and expertise outweighs yours in many instances. One of the fun aspects of the job is to work with all of those different backgrounds. It is one of the challenges of the job, as well, but it’s very rewarding,” he says.

East Cooper’s corporate parent is Tenet Healthcare. They follow several initiatives that come via Tenet, including a performance management initiative and one that is focusing on Medicare. “We are always looking at ways to become more efficient,” says Ray, “not only with our supply chain, but also with our labor force. That’s an ongoing initiative at the hospital.”

Quality is the Bottom Line

“It all boils down to quality, really,” says Ray. “We’re constantly working across departments to improve our core measures. We’re constantly working across departments to improve the satisfaction of our physicians, our patients, and our employees. If you can accomplish those three things, the financial results will be a nice byproduct.

-by T.M. Simmons

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