The Jefferson County Hospital Authority has hired a new interim CEO of Jefferson Hospital.
Lou Semrad III was recently named the interim CEO. Ray Davis, chairman of the hospital authority, said they had several applicants for the position, and Semrad’s name came to the board by way of the hospital’s current department heads. Semrad replaces interim CEO Steve Widener, who recently retired.
“He is very well organized and he will be bringing something that the hospital staff says they want, structure,” Davis said. “During a recent department managers’ meeting we asked them what are the qualities they are looking for in their next leader. They said they wanted structure. We have great expectations of him.”
Semrad is under contract for the next six months at his request, Davis said. If things go according to plan, the authority will be able to extend it month by month until personal responsibilities next year require his departure.
Semrad, who has been a hospital consultant for a couple of months, has a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Alabama.
He has four years of experience consulting for rural hospitals and 14 years in a variety of administrative and patient care related roles in hospitals.
While consulting with the hospital on quality and process improvement and preparation for its January accreditation survey, Semrad said he was immediately impressed with the commitment and passion he saw in the hospital’s management staff.
“They are, without a doubt, dedicated to the hospital remaining open,” Semrad said.
The interim CEO said that over the next several months he will be working to help the hospital staff prepare for the accreditation survey, focusing on improving customer service, looking at additional service lines for new revenue and working with the authority to find a permanent CEO.
“We are in the middle of converting from paper to electronic record keeping, so we ask that the public bear with us,” he said.
Semrad said that he is very familiar with the pressures, challenges and advantages that rural hospitals face over their larger competitors in neighboring cities. “There are a lot of people in this county who are Medicaid eligible but who are not on Medicaid,” Semrad said. “We are looking for avenues to help them get enrolled. … As a rural community, you want to provide as many services to local folks so they don’t have to travel. Not everyone has reliable transportation and then you have time away from family and time away from work.”
He said that he is a big proponent of telemedicine and is looking at ways to expand these services locally.
Semrad said that he will also be working with the board and the staff as the county prepares to put a referendum on the March ballot asking voters if they would support the county raising up to 3 mils of ad valorem taxes to support the hospital.
“Rural health care is all about grass roots, and so we will be out in the community,” he said. “We will provide a benefit that far exceeds the tax.”