CCH's Doris retiring
Central Carolina Hospital CEO Doug Doris will retire at the end of March, having led the hospital for the better part of a decade.
Doris was hired in 2006 with directives to increase profits as well as the ratings of the hospital's physicians and services. Then came the recession and, a few years later, health care reform. Yet, according to some of those who worked with him and for him, Doris didn't let a worldwide financial crisis or the controversies and confusion surrounding the Affordable Care Act stop him from improving the hospital.
"Doug Doris has probably done more for this hospital than any other CEO I've ever been around," said Dr. Steven Jurisich, a surgeon who has been affiliated with Central Carolina Hospital for 21 years. "He's gotten more (financial) capital, done more improvements, than any of his predecessors probably ever even dreamed of."
David Spivey, a Sanford businessman who is chairman of the hospital's Governing Board, said Doris has been an outstanding leader.
"The quality of care and the public image has improved drastically," said Spivey, who originally met Doris through Rotary. "When Doug came here, it was going to be a temporary six-month role as they transitioned and hired someone else. But partly Tenet (Healthcare Corporation) convinced him to stay, and partly he liked the challenge."
Tenet owns CCH and about 70 other hospitals across the country, so Spivey said it's important to have a CEO who can grab the attention of the company's leadership, especially for funding. Doris excelled at that, Spivey said.
Doris entered the healthcare management field in 1979, in food services. Nearly four decades later he has been CEO of six hospitals in Atlanta, St. Louis, Sanford and Des Moines, Iowa.
He prefers to fly under the radar. Even when he did admit that he has helped turn Central Carolina Hospital around in several areas, he downplayed the scope of the hospital's improvement and said his staff deserve most of the credit.
"We were kind of in need of help when I came here, and we've been doing well in nearly every category lately," Doris said, adding: "I've been able to put together a really good management team here that I've really liked. ... And they're the ones that really do the frontline work."
Since he was hired, the hospital built a catheterization lab for patients with heart issues, installed a robotic arm to assist surgeons in technically difficult orthoscopic surgeries, digitized troves of records and completed other updates and additions — a reported $19.3 million in capital investments in the last seven years. As Doris is leaving, a campaign to expand the emergency room is just getting started.
Under Doris the hospital also grew its cardiology staff from one physician to 14, recruited 87 new doctors in total, partnered with WakeMed in Raleigh to create a pediatric hospitalist program and affiliated itself with six local physicians' offices.
"His predecessors said, 'I can't get the money for this; I can't get the money for that,'" Jurisich said. "He's seemed to have gotten any money he wanted. ... He's certainly going to leave the place in much better shape than when he found it."
Doris said every year of his career in hospital management has been difficult, but he enjoys being part of a "very noble industry." In fact, he said, he's still so focused on the job that he hasn't really thought too much about what he'll do in retirement — maybe get an RV, maybe spend more time outdoors hunting and fishing, maybe devote more time to his photography, and certainly spend more time with his wife Barbara.
But for now, there's still more work to do. His successor, David Loving, will arrive in town Monday for a month apprenticing under Doris and the rest of the staff to learn the ropes.
"Eveything's moving at 100 miles per hour, like it always does," Doris said. "... It's been a difficult time. And we're in a time of monumental change, with the Affordable Care Act."
Jurisich was part of the team who interviewed Loving and said he has the potential to fill Doris' shoes. Spivey agreed, saying the month they'll be able to spend together is a rare and beneficial opportunity.
Jurisich added that the relationship between doctors and hospital administrators is often adversarial, and he and Doris argued over several topics. But he said he always respected Doris, even when they disagreed.
"He makes a judgment and gets it done right away," Jurisich said. "In the past, the guys hemmed and hawed and took forever to get it done, and what it did was alienated a lot of the doctors. (Doris) doesn't do everything the doctors want him to do, but he can't. He has a hospital to run and make profitable.
"But he has good business sense. He knows when to listen, and he knows when to act."
Central Carolina Hospital awards and honors under Doug Doris
· Grade A for Patient Safety by Leap Frog, 2013
· Top Ten Rural Hospitals by Leap Frog, 2010
· Get With The Guidelines (GWTG) American Heart Association (AHA) Coronary Artery Disease: Gold, 2007-11
· GWTG AHA Heart Failure: Gold Plus, 2008-14
· GWTG AHA Stroke: Gold, 2010-12
· GWTG AHA Stroke: Silver, 2013-14
· Chest Pain Accreditations, 2010-2012
· Joint Commission Accreditation, 2006, 2009, 2012
· Joint Commission Primary Stroke Center certification, 2013
· Joint Commission Accreditation for Heart Failure, 2013
· Certified Quality Breast Center, 2010