New hospital CEO talks about goals, plans

Photo by Jay Nolan Charles Lovell is the new CEO of Barbourville ARH Hospital.
Photo by Jay Nolan
Charles Lovell is the new CEO of Barbourville ARH Hospital.

“I am excited to be here in Barbourville. I have already determined there are some great people here – well qualified and well trained, really hospital supportive… I figured out on day one there are great people here.”

That comment launched a conversation with the Mountain Advocate and Charles Lovell, the new CEO of Barbourville ARH hospital. After just one week on the job, The Advocate wanted to capture the tall, gray-haired executive’s first impressions of the hospital, its staff and our community.

His personal preferences seem to make him a great fit for our town. “My preference is a small community…we chose to raise our sons in a small community… I was born and grew up in a small community, and that is just where I was meant to be.” Lovell adds, “ I like knowing the employees…knowing the patients we serve, knowing the physicians. I really want to get involved in the community.”

Coming here from Western Kentucky, Lovell hopes to move out of the hotel and into a house he is renting locally this Saturday. Then, “My plan Sunday is to go to church.”

Initially, his impressions of the local facility have been positive. “The facility here is very nice. I have been in hospitals in my career that were 20,30, 40 or 50 years old.” Lovell says he is also impressed with the size of the facility. “It is actually very large.” He already has plans for some of the “extra space.” He hopes to bring a new clinic into the hospital, perhaps “focusing on senior care,” and have it up and running by this spring.

Lovell is also new to ARH, joining the company only last Monday. He says his greatest challenge as CEO will be learning the ARH policies, procedures and way of doing business. He likes the fact that “most of their corporate staff are located in Hazard,” at the facility there, near the other ARH hospitals, not up in the Lexington headquarters. He also noted ARH’s purchasing power will help lower costs for the hospital here.

Perhaps the greatest benefit and opportunity Lovell says he sees is leveraging ARH resources to bring new “specialists into our community.” He believes that will give this hospital the ability to do some “new procedures and handle more cases” locally. His hope is “people won’t have to make a long drive to wherever to see a doctor.” He is already in talks with his fellow CEOs from ARH hospitals in Middlesboro and Harlan about how to make that happen.

As for his view on hospital-community relations, Lovell said. “I want the hospital to be represented in the things going on…Want the hospital to give back to the community.” He specifically mentioned he looks forward to working with the local school districts and Union College. Trained as a nurse himself, he says he is very excited about Union’s nursing program. He would like to be able to help keep local students employed in this area. Lovell expressed his thanks that “so many people here have been so welcoming.”

What is top priority for the new CEO? “I tell people, we have a good hospital. Together with the staff and ARH, we are going to make this a great hospital.”