Bariola, spouse Pam Bariola and Carter, 15 months, are now starting out on another journey.
"We're moving to Arkansas," Bariola said.
Bariola is the new CEO of Eureka Springs Hospital and the River Valley Medical Center in Dardanelle. He's spent most of his life in the Greenville, Miss., area, where he worked at larger hospitals, but is looking forward to his new assignments.
"I like the small-town feel and a small-town hospital," he said. "You can provide a more personal touch than at a bigger hospital. You can make sure the quality of care is there with each visit."
Bariola, 35, grew up in Leland, Miss., east of Greenville, where his family settled in the 1920s and grew cotton. He graduated from St. Joseph's Catholic High School, where he played football and baseball. He attended the University of Mississippi, graduating with a business degree in 2000, and worked in behavior health sciences. He decided to go into health care administration because of the variety inherent in the job and the opportunity to serve.
"You don't deal with the same thing every day," he said. "You are surrounded by community. You can help the community."
Bariola completed an MBA at Delta State University, and an administrative fellowship at Greenwood-LeFlore Hospital. His forte is process improvement; he has a Green Belt Six Sigma (the program uses Japanese martial-arts terms) in the subject from Lawrence Technical University. At Greenwood-LeFlore, he chopped an hour off the average wait time in the emergency room and raised patient satisfaction to 85 percent. He also worked in obstetrics and surgery to improve work flow.
His most recent assignment: opening a long term, acute-care hospital in Greenville. He led the speciality hospital for the past year and a half, the last week of August being his last as CEO there. Bariola, who is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, was also active in the local Kiwanis Club and was chosen to participate in the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce Young Leadership program.
"I'm a big chamber member," he said.
Pam Bariola is a family nurse practitioner. A year ago in March, she and Chris were packing for a trip to Orlando to celebrate his brother's graduation from medical school when they got the call that their son had been born. Instead of driving to Florida, they threw everything in the car, picked up an infant car seat, and drove to Virginia. There, they saw Carter for the first time and met his birth parents.
"They picked us," Bariola said.
When they left the hospital, Pam was treated like any other new mother -- she rode in a wheel chair, holding the baby wrapped in a blue blanket, blue balloons tied to the chair.
"We got home on Mother's Day," Bariola said. "It was the most exciting thing we have ever done."