Last week the Nashville Healthcare Council featured LifePoint Health President and CEO David Dill in the latest installment of “Health Care Brass Tacks,” a virtual series in which Council board members and C-suite health care leaders discuss their unique perspectives on the coronavirus pandemic and its overall impact on the health care industry. Dill spoke with Council President Hayley Hovious about the experience of LifePoint Health and his outlook for the coming months.
Established in 1999, LifePoint Health is a leading healthcare company with a mission of Making Communities Healthier. The company’s footprint includes 88 hospital campuses in 29 states, as well as post-acute service providers and outpatient centers.
Dill said LifePoint Health began tracking COVID-19 when news of the virus broke in late 2019, and aggressively preparing for a potential surge in late February. The operations and clinical teams examined service lines, elective procedures, supply chains and clinical requirements to plan for the safety of employees and patients. “From the onset, we set clear priorities for our response strategy. Those priorities were to take care of our patients, take care of our people, and be leaders in minimizing the impact of the pandemic,” he said.
Among the leadership roles LifePoint has taken within its communities and nationally, in April, Dill and other Nashville health care industry leaders were invited to meet with President Donald Trump and take part in an initiative coordinated by the American Hospital Association and the White House that invited large health systems to participate in a “virtual reserve of ventilators” to support hospitals with an influx of COVID-19 patients.
At the time of the visit, elective procedures across the country were cancelled, and hospitals were managing both the business impact of canceling those procedures, and the community health impact of postponing care for their communities. Dill and fellow healthcare leaders directly advocated to White House leaders the importance of allowing health care providers to safely resume procedures. “Our voices were heard,” Dill said. “The federal government opened up, and CMS and states relaxed guidelines. We still have a long way to go, but we’re starting to take care of those patients and their underlying conditions.”
Hovious also asked Dill to share leadership advice based on what he has learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Trust your people,” he said. Dill continued to talk about ensuring clarity in roles and enabling quick decision making – both of which are disciplines the company will continue post-pandemic, Dill said.
Dill added that communication has been important. Early in the pandemic, Dill began recording brief, unscripted videos to share updates from across the company with employees. “I learned that something as simple as a three- or four-minute video, recorded in my backyard, could remind employees we’re all in this together,” he said.
Dill attributes LifePoint’s success to a strong company culture and stated, “a crisis either exposes the culture of the company or culture gets you through it.” For LifePoint, the latter has been true.
In his closing comments, Dill commented on LifePoint’s thousands of employees on the front lines of the pandemic. “These folks leave their homes, where parents might be living with them or kids are home from school, to walk into harm’s way every day. The term ‘health care heroes’ is so well deserved,” Dill said.