At a town hall staff meeting held at Southeast Arizona Medical Center approximately 45 staff members gathered to hear SAMC Board of Directors President James Riley officially announce the promotion of Annie Benson as the new chief executive officer on Oct. 17.
SAMC announced new CEO and CFO on Oct. 17. Pictured from left to right CFO Mary Fernandez, CEO Annie Benson, Sierra Vista Regional CEO Margaret Hepburn and SAMC Board of Directors President James Riley. Trisha Maldonado/Douglas Dispatch
Staff members gave Benson a standing ovation in the SAMC cafeteria.
“I think she’s particularly pleased to have heard that applause,” Riley said.
A grateful Benson thanked the staff for attending the meeting. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the hard work and dedication you put ever since we made cuts,” she said. “Even though we are struggling, I really appreciate your dedication to this place,” she said. “I have always believed that this hospital provides the best service in the county.”
Benson has been with SAMC for 35 years and has held various positions. She has been the chief nursing officer and the chief operating officer. Under Carter she was the designated hospital administrator.
Benson previously was the director of quality management and regulation compliancy at the hospital.
“She knows the organization from top to bottom,” Riley said. “We believe she is highly regarded amongst the staff.”
According to Riley the board has recently struggled with administrative changes. “We are not blaming anyone for anything” he said. “We simply came to the conclusion that things can be done a different way and hopefully a better way.
“I believe myself personally that the board could not have chosen a better person that has had so much passion for this place as Annie has and I think with the passion she has worked with all these years,” SAMC Patient Financial Service Coordinator, Jasmine Anguiano said. “Again I don’t think you went wrong by choosing her. I think with a person like that and believing so strongly in this hospital and having that attitude she’ll have the crowd behind her.”
In addition to a new CEO, the board also approved the position of Chief Finance Officer Mary Fernandez.
Fernandez was the administrative director of finance for the Sierra Vista Regional Health Center.
“Mary is going to help us get money, she is going to help us with our collections, help with decreasing our account receivable,” Riley said. “She is going to work with old accounts to bring them current.”
The board is confident that bringing Fernandez on board will increase the revenue stream.
“We are going to try to reduce expenses without hurting the staff,” Riley said.
Currently there are no plans for layoffs and or salary reductions. “Reducing your salaries will not save this hospital,” he told the employees.
The SAMC board is also looking at a new service model for the hospital, which may mean some services will be eliminated. There was no comment on which services will be eliminated at this time.
The creation of a patient advocate in the emergency room will be also implemented.
The patient advocate will address concerns and forward them to the nursing staff and or physicians in order to ensure optimal care for patients and family members. The patient advocate will be involved and focused on: improving communication, accessing information, addressing concerns, resolving difficulties with patients and staff.
“The board has tremendous confidence in Annie, she knows all of the staff very well, she knows their strengths and weaknesses and their abilities,” Riley said. “She is able to rise to the challenge of being CEO.”