Andert excited to be named CEO of Eureka Springs Hospital
Vicki Andert was born to take care of people. Recently promoted to CEO of Eureka Springs Hospital, Andert is looking forward to helping more patients receive the care they deserve.
“I’ve always considered myself the worker bee. I’m the one that takes care of the patients and makes sure they’re doing well in there,” Andert said. “I had never been interested in management at all until I started working in Eureka.”
Andert received her nursing degree when she was 19 and worked for Sparks Regional Medical Center for 26 years in critical care and surgery. She and her husband moved to Eureka Springs 12 years ago, Andert said, and she quickly found her home at Eureka Springs Hospital. Within two years, Andert was promoted to director of nursing. She said she took the role because the staff encouraged her to.
“I always wanted to be hands-on with the patients. I just love taking care of people,” Andert said. “I realized there are different ways of taking care of people. You can be there on a daily basis taking care of all their immediate needs, or you can be there to help facilitate changes and improvements that absolutely affect those patients.”
Andert remembered working at Sparks, where she didn’t have a say in those kind of changes. She feels honored to take over for former CEO Peter Savoy, Andert said, to continue making improvements to patient care.
“As long as I feel I’m helping, I want to be in this position,” Andert said. “If it gets to the point where I don’t feel like I’m able to facilitate any changes or help patients, then I need to go do something else.”
She thanked Savoy for recommending her for the position, saying she’s happy her direct boss has such confidence in her. That’s not unusual for Allegiance Health Management, Andert said. Since Allegiance took over the hospital’s management in 2007, Andert said, the facility and care have only improved.
“We’ve never had any issues with their management,” Andert said. “The company’s track record has been flawless. It was kind of rough when I started in 2006.”
She continued, “Knowing how hard we have worked to get the staff we have now who are excellent, the training we have, the equipment we have … it feels good to see the improvements.”
There are big things happening at the hospital, Andert said. She said the hospital is looking for a second physician, saying the interviewing process is underway. The community needs more physicians, Andert said, because many locals don’t have a personal care provider.
“Gosh, there could probably be four or five physicians come into this area, and they’d all have full practices,” Andert said. “I don’t see it as competition, because there’s more than enough patients who need a PCP and can’t find one.”
Another big change, Andert said, is the upcoming renovations at the hospital. Andert said she’s hoping to work with Allegiance and the Eureka Springs Hospital Commission to make sure the renovation is financially feasible. Even though the care is excellent at the hospital, Andert said, it doesn’t always seem that way from the outside looking in.
“We do paint. We do clean-up, but when someone comes by and they glance at the building, they can tell it’s old,” Andert said. “No matter how good your equipment is or how trained your staff is, patients will never know it if you don’t get them through that front door.”
She recalled talking to a patient recently who said he wouldn’t have come to the hospital unless he was in an emergency situation.
“He said, ‘I never would have come here, but from now on I’ll come here every time I need medical help,’ ” Andert said.
At the end of the day, Andert said, taking care of people is the most important part of her job.
“I am absolutely 100 percent a caregiver. I always have been,” Andert said. “If you do what’s right for the patient, as long as you treat the patient appropriately, then the facility is going to be OK and the business side is going to take care of itself.”
She’s embracing her new role, Andert said.
“I think a lot of the community know me. The commissioners know me. The city council knows me,” Andert said. “I hope they know my heart’s in the right place, and I’m here for the community.”