Baptist Health Care: Al Stubblefield, President & CEO

by HCE Exchange on June 1, 2013

Al Stubblefield Al Stubblefield

Finding Baptist Health Care in Northwest Florida is an easy task given the system’s role in Pensacola and the surrounding communities. Baptist Health Care’s commitment to the community that supports it extends far beyond delivering top quality medical treatment. “It means we are going to wow our customers, deliver great service,” said President and CEO Al Stubblefield. “In the healthcare industry, we have to have great quality.” Bringing this quality to the population is a large part of providing great service. With 5300 employees and four hospitals, Baptist Health Care is already conveniently located for much of the population. Stubblefield is not resting yet, however; Baptist Health Care continually works to improve service and to offer new programs and facilities for the community.

Building Upon a Successful Program

Baptist Health Care is a four-hospital system, encompassing Baptist Hospital, Gulf Breeze Hospital, Atmore Community Hospital, and Jay Hospital. The system also includes the Baptist Leadership Institute, the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, Baptist Manor, Baptist Medical Park, and the Lakeview Center. Together, these components help Baptist Health Care serve Northwest Florida and Southern Alabama. Started as Baptist Hospital in 1951, it was in 1983 that Baptist Health Care incorporated, combining Baptist Regional Health Services and BCI Enterprises. Stubblefield, a member of the Baptist Health Care team for the past 22 years, took the reins as President and CEO in 1999, and has been directing a staff that prides itself on great service.

Baptist Health Care is “committed to service excellence at every level of the organization,” said Stubblefield, who takes very seriously his role in “engaging every single employee.” He starts with senior management and the organization’s vision of “being the best healthcare system in America.” Working toward this goal, Stubblefield realizes that delivering great service means that Baptist Health Care “has to have great people.” The Baptist Health Care commitment to excellence has been recognized with many awards over the past decade, including the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2003. Among other notable achievements, Baptist Health Care has been in the top 1-3% in patient satisfaction for over 10 years and has been on Fortune Magazine’s list of “top 100 companies to work for” six consecutive years.

These awards, and the commitment to excellence, have allowed Baptist Health Care to grow steadily, most recently with the addition of the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in 2007. Stubblefield recognized that delivering great service means having a balanced organization. To achieve this balance, he and his staff “created five pillars of excellence: people, service, quality, financials, and growth. In those five pillars we’ve tried to be the best, in every one of them.”

The Practice of Delivering Great Service

Maintaining a superior level of quality is an ongoing process. Currently, Baptist Health Care is in the process of upgrading its facilities. While renovating the existing hospital buildings, Stubblefield is also seeking out new locations from which to bring his brand of high quality care to the community.

Baptist Health Care seeks more than just maintenance of its high standards; it seeks to improve on them and to help other hospitals raise their standards as well. Because of its numerous awards, healthcare professionals around the country have sought to learn from Baptist Health Care. Stubblefield said that many of the over 8000 people who have come to explore Baptist Health Care were not satisfied with short benchmark visits and one-day seminars. This demand led to the development of the Baptist Leadership Institute in 1999. The Institute works with hospitals that want to change their culture and engage their workforce. Currently, over 40 hospitals are working with the Leadership Institute; some of these are among the leading teaching hospitals in the country.

The newest initiative at Baptist Health Care, the Andrews Institute brings another element to the range of treatment the organization offers. A joint venture with Dr. Jim Andrews, one of the leading sports medicine specialists in the country, the Andrews Institute is “one of the most comprehensive sports medicine rehab institutes in America,” said Stubblefield. “It has a performance enhancement component, world-class rehab, research and education facilities.” Delivering excellence in patient care has meant continually offering innovative approaches in combination with superior service.

Challenges

One of the biggest challenges faced by Baptist Health Care is an issue that affects hospitals around the country, the rising number of uninsured patients. Economic difficulties in the Pensacola area have led to a situation in which many uninsured people come to Baptist Health Care needing treatment. Taking its role in the community seriously, Baptist Health Care teamed up with other nearby hospitals to try to put together a local answer to the growing uninsured population. According to Stubblefield, his organization had been behind “an unsuccessful attempt at getting a half-cent sales tax that would have gone to help fund a program to cover a lot of those uninsured folks.” He continued, saying, “We’re still continuing to look for ways to branch out and meet the needs of those who are not prepared now for healthcare issues when they come.”

Another hurdle Baptist Health Care faces in delivering high quality care is keeping up to date on technological developments. In addition to renovating the hospital itself, Stubblefield noted, “Healthcare technology is so incredibly expensive that being out in front of it and being able to anticipate what’s a fad and what’s real, where we need to invest our dollars, is a real challenge.” Working to meet this challenge, Baptist Health Care has located a 3 Tesla MRI scanner in the new Andrews Institute. This scanner, with twice the power of a conventional MRI scanner will help Baptist Health Care physicians make faster, more precise diagnoses. Also this year, Baptist Hospital has installed a daVinci® S HD Surgical System, greatly expanding doctors’ ability to perform minimally invasive yet highly complex surgeries.

Looking Forward

Understanding the needs of the community and the problems it faces are critical to Baptist Health Care’s mission of providing excellent service. Because the population in and around Pensacola is spread out, Baptist Health Care is looking for new ways to bring care to the people who need it. For Stubblefield, this has meant adding to the base of excellent physicians already on his staff by helping them to recruit and grow their practices. This is only part of the equation though. “Branching out geographically to a more and more spread out population center,” is also crucial for Stubblefield, as is “making sure that we have portals into our system that are convenient to that population base.” Bringing in patients means offering service to them where they are.

The process of expanding Baptist Health Care while raising the bar for excellence in service is not a task for Stubblefield alone. In his words, “if you focus on your workforce, and you engage your workforce, they have an amazing capacity to get energized and to help you achieve that level that you never would have dreamed possible. But senior management cannot do it. We would not have achieved what we have here in the last 8-10 years had we not turned our culture upside down and realized that we had to engage every single employee in this organization; not just to show up for work and fill a shift, but to be a part of helping us achieve a noble and worthwhile mission.” For Stubblefield and his staff, working at Baptist Health Care is not just a job, it is a commitment to improve the quality of life for the whole community.

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