Doctor Steven Rouzer has been appointed Chief Medical Officer at Moab Regional Hospital. [Courtesy photo.]

Recognized in June as a top performing Critical Access Hospital (CAH) in the United States, Moab Regional Hospital recently modified its operational structure to include practicing physicians in its administrative decision-making processes.

Dr. Steven Rouzer was named the hospital’s first Chief Medical Officer by the Moab Valley Healthcare Inc. Board of Trustees last month.

MRH CEO Jennifer Sadoff said that though it’s common for larger hospitals serving urban populations to staff a CMO position, for a hospital in a small rural community it isn’t usually feasible to have a practicing physician fill what is usually a strictly administrative role. She said that Dr. Rouzer will continue to practice, and will act as CMO on a part-time basis.

“We’re able to make it work because we’re a rural hospital that has this boom and bust of people utilizing our services, so we have to, and can have, more robust services than you would find in hospitals in other similarly-sized communities,” Sadoff said.

As CMO, Rouzer will chair the newly formed Hospital Operations Council to provide medical leadership on the Moab Regional Hospital executive team. Working closely with top administration officials and the director of physician services, Rouzer will help ensure quality hospital operations, develop and drive MRH’s strategic plan, provide leadership to medical providers and improve community health.

“The executive team at MRH includes voices from across a wide spectrum of experience, from community health advocacy to insurance and finance to nursing,” Sadoff said. “Having the voice of a physician as well will round out the team’s perspective moving forward.”

Mike Bynum, Chair of the Moab Valley Health Inc. Board of Trustees said that the new operations council is really a formal means of making sure that physicians are part of the decision-making process.

“With new facilities and new services being offered, the board felt that including physician input at this juncture will help us continue to grow in a way that gives Moab and its visitors the best medical experience possible,” Bynum said.

As the first to fill the new role, Rouzer looks forward to exploring its possibilities and hopes that the CMO will ultimately serve to increase communication among the hospital’s medical practitioners and administrative staff. Each CMO will serve for a two-year period, sharing unique skills and perspective that will shape the role over the next several years, he said.

“I think it’s very important that there be support from all the individuals involved, the board and members of the medical staff,” Rouzer said. “I’m hoping that my coworkers will feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, observations and advice to optimize this new opportunity.”

Doctor Rouzer has a long history in Moab, and with the hospital and is greatly respected and trusted by the community and the hospital staff and administration, Sadoff said. In over 40 years in the medical field, more than 30 of which have been in Moab, Rouzer’s scope of practice has included obstetrics, family practice and emergency medicine. Prior to moving to Moab, he served as a physician with Indian Health Services for 10 years in Kayenta, Arizona.

“Dr. Rouzer has served this community for a long time. I think it’s great for the patients and the staff that he wanted to do it and that we’ll have his expertise at hand,” Bynum said. “It adds a whole new element, and an important one.”

They may be breaking new ground for hospitals of their size, Bynum said, which is something the board is not afraid to do. Designated a Critical Access Hospital because of its size and services it provides, MRH is one of three Utah CAHs that were designated among the top 100 in the nation according to iVantage’s Hospital Strength INDEX in June.

iVantage Health Analytics is a leading provider of healthcare analytic and decision support tools. The INDEX measures CAHs across more than 70 different performance metrics, including quality of care, outcomes, patient perspective, affordability, population risk and overall efficiency. The hospital was also ranked in the top 100 in 2014.

“That kind of recognition compliments all the people involved in Moab Regional Hospital,” Bynum said. “It reflects on the dedication of the staff and the doctors at the hospital. What we’ve been doing is working, and we’re focused on continuing to improve along the same lines.”

MRH named among top 100 small hospitals in nation

“With new facilities and new services being offered, the board felt that including physician input at this juncture will help us continue to grow in a way that gives Moab and its visitors the best medical experience possible,”