The Rise of the MD CEO – BusinessNH Magazine

Cottage Hospital in Woodsville is a small 25-bed critical access hospital. Maria Ryan, who has a Ph.D in hospital administration and advanced degrees in nursing, took over as CEO in 2010 after being chief nursing officer for four years. Ryan isn’t stuck behind a desk all day, though. In fact, she keeps scrubs under her desk so she can help out in the ER as needed. She says she is most proud of turning around the hospital financially and improving patient care.

Ryan designated three beds in the intensive care unit as variable acuity beds that can be used for ICU patients or post-surgery patients, a change that makes more beds available for patient care as ICU beds were not always full. And while filling in for some shifts, she realized clinical support positions were understaffed at some points of a day, so she added more staff at those times. Since becoming CEO she has not laid off anyone. Furthermore, the hospital’s margin (the change in unrestricted net assets/total operating revenue) went from -1.54 percent in 2009 to  7.27 percent in 2012. The hospital is now looking to add a new building or more office space to meet increased outptatient patient volume.

“I can relate to every kind of worker there is,” Ryan says. “I can see things from the clinical perspective (nurse and phlebotomist) and see it from the provider perspective (nurse practitioner and physician). I can bridge the gap. Sometimes it takes somebody who can see it from different perspectives to come up with successful outcomes for the patients.”

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