MBQ CEO of the Year Awards, 1000+ Employees

Dr. Reginald Coopwood, MBQ CEO Award Winner, 1000+ Employees

MBQ CEO of the Year Winner, 1000+ Employees:  
Dr. Reginald Coopwood, Regional One Health

COMPANY: Regional One Health (formerly The MED)
ADDRESS: 877 Jefferson Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103
PHONE: (901) 545-7100
FOUNDED: 1829, chartered originally as the Memphis Hospital
SERVICES PROVIDED: A healthcare system that includes acute care, extended care, and rehab hospitals, an outpatient surgery center, and primary care services. The acute care hospital, Regional Medical Center, is anchored by highly respected Centers of Excellence, including trauma, burn, neonatal intensive care, and high-risk obstetrics. Regional Medical Center is one of the largest medical and surgical teaching sites for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
EDUCATION: M.D., Meharry Medical College in Nashville
WORK BACKGROUND: Established a successful general surgical practice in Nashville. Served as Chief Medical Officer at Nashville General Hospital at Meharry. Served as CEO of Metropolitan Nashville Hospital Authority from 2005 until 2010.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Turned around the chronically plagued healthcare system and has begun maximizing its potential. Did this in part by maintaining expenses but creating new revenue streams, such as expanding services and protecting revenue with improved customer service. The four years prior to Coopwood’s arrival, The MED lost money, to the tune of $20 million in 2009. His first full fiscal year, The MED made $17 million from operations. An outpatient hospital is in the works for a property in East Memphis off Highway 385.
PROFESSIONAL AWARDS: Named one of Tennessee’s Healthcare Top 25 in 2007 and 2009. Named to the list of Power Players in Hospital Administration in MBQ: Inside Memphis Business. Named to Memphis magazine’s Who’s Who. Named a Health Care Hero in Administrative Excellence in 2011, Memphis Business Journal. Received Diversity Champion Award, Tennessee Hospital Association.
CIVIC RESPONSIBILITIES/CAUSES: Board Member, March of Dimes, New Memphis Institute, QSource, and Mid-South eHealth Alliance. Chairman, Tennessee Hospital Association. Member, UTHSC Chancellor’s Advisory Board. Alumni of Leadership Memphis.
FAMILY: Has five children, and his wife, Erica, is from Yazoo City, Mississippi.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD CEO? “A good leader provides vision and understands the big picture. They also hire capable, motivated people who can embrace the vision and then get out of their way. Successful people working together toward a common vision will drive the organization forward.”

Today, Dr. Reginald Coopwood is CEO of Regional One Health, formerly the Regional Medical Center at Memphis (The MED). But Coopwood started out as a surgeon. “I loved doing surgery,” Coopwood says. “When it’s time to make that incision, everyone is focused on the patient and you’re the leader in the room. The surgeon is the conductor of all the moving parts. You’re at the center but everyone is moving together.”

The same personality traits that led him to being a surgeon have served him as an administrator. “I can be CEO because I can effect change.”

If ever there was a place that needed a change, it was The MED in the first decade of the twenty-first century. The public hospital with a Level 1 Trauma Center is the safety-net facility for a 150-mile radius. That means the most dire medical cases in a multistate region wind up at The MED. It also means that the hospital will treat those patients regardless of insurance coverage. Because it receives funds from a number of state and local governments, and those entities were going through budgetary crises, The MED wasn’t getting the money it needed to operate effectively. It was losing patients at an alarming rate, was a money loser, and news headlines reported nearly daily on the hospital’s somber situation.

Coopwood’s first days on the job were challenging. The management company that had been running The MED did good work to stop the bleeding. Nevertheless, as scheduled on February 28, 2010, the CEO, CFO, COO, CNO, and CMO of The MED walked out the door and the next day Coopwood walked in as the only member of administration.

Coopwood’s plan was seemingly simple. The cuts had been made by the management firm, so now it was time to grow. “One of the things that I learned and fully believe is that you can’t cut yourself to prosperity,” he says. New revenue streams have been created by expanding services and, crucially, revenue was protected by improving customer service and making sure that patients who came to The MED who could afford to transfer when they recovered, didn’t.

The four years prior to his arrival, The MED lost money; $20 million dollars in 2009. His first full fiscal year, The MED made $17 million from operations. Coopwood deflects credit. “The best asset The MED had was the people.”

His work is just beginning, and where The MED, now Regional One Health, is headed may surprise some. For starters, they want to be a hospital of choice, competing with other health systems in Memphis, such as Baptist, Methodist, and Saint Francis.

Regional One Health is replacing its campus, and ultimately it aims to rank in the class with academic hospitals nationally, such as Ochsner, the Mayo Clinic, and Vanderbilt. But the future has already started. “We want to be a hospital of choice even before we get the new building,” Coopwood says. 


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