Lawrence + Memorial CEO makes it a point to get on the floors

When he arrived last June as the first president and chief executive officer of Lawrence + Memorial Hospital since its affiliation with the Yale New Haven Health network, Patrick L. Green vowed to be a visible leader.

According to people I have talked with at the hospital, Green has been good on his word, showing up most anywhere, on any shift, at any time of the week at the hospital and its affiliates. He enthusiastically confirmed as much when he sat down last Monday for a meeting with our editorial board.

“We’re a 24-hour business and our staff work 24 hours, so I have to make sure that we spend times at all hours getting out and meeting people where they are. I’m the CEO of people who are on third shift too,” Green said.

While I suppose some might pine for their independent community hospital, the evidence suggests the affiliation with the Yale New Haven Health network has proven to be a necessary and positive change for L+M.

During a recent forum held to update the status of the hospital post-merger, hospital leaders reported the successful recruitment of 15 new doctors, including four primary care physicians, a critical need. And with the affiliation, patients have more access to specialized care.

On the financial side, a $27 million deficit has been erased, Green reported.

In addition to L+M in New London, Green is the top executive for the other parts of L+M Healthcare — the Visiting Nurse Association of Southeastern Connecticut, the Pequot Health Center in Groton, the Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center in Waterford, and Westerly Hospital.

In addition to his own “rounding,” the young executive — Green is 44 — mandates that all top executives get out and about.

“It heightens credibility for me and my team because we’re out there. We don’t want to just sit in an executive suite,” Green said.

Well, at least you’re not going to want to sit in the executive suite if the boss is ordering you to do otherwise.

Being visible can help an executive learn about problems, while making it difficult to dodge them.

“We don’t have any shrinking violets; people are very candid — in a respectful way,” Green said of the workforce at L+M Healthcare.

“It raises a different level of accountability. Because if I … see Joe or Jane on the unit and in a month I come back — and they had told me there was an issue — either I tell them what we’re doing to fix it, and this is the plan, or, guess what, you will lose a lot of credibility,” Green said.

The CEO, whose previous job was senior executive vice president and chief administrative officer at St. Anthony Hospital in Colorado, said building relationships could help when management and labor have to next sit across the table to talk contracts.

That won’t be for a while. The current labor deals covering nurses, technicians and other staff extend into 2019. After an ugly labor dispute in 2013, which included a strike and subsequent lockout, contracts were negotiated and approved with little rancor in 2016.

During a “listening tour,” Green said he questioned staff about how the administration might improve the work environment.

“We kept hearing the same thing, ‘We love the people we work with. We love this community. Just give us the tools and resources to make our patients happy.’ That tells you a lot about the fabric of the people we are working with,” he told the editorial board.

Is the CEO buttering up labor? Maybe. But it is preferable to hearing the ugly rhetoric that was being traded back and forth not so long ago.

Paul Choiniere is the editorial page editor.


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