My Last Blog

This week I finish my last few days as the CEO of Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals (CJW). While I am transitioning to a new role as President of the Capital Division, I will not and cannot forget the importance of the work being done at CJW every day. I want to personally thank you for allowing me to be a first-hand witness to the incredible compassionate care work being done at CJW over my four year tenure.

I know the root of the success of this organization is entirely and inextricably tied to the high quality of the associates and medical staff at CJW. My goal and hope for this blog was to give both employees and the public a sense of the tremendous and powerful impact being made every day to thousands of people needing healthcare in our community. It was the personal stories that resonated most and received the highest viewership. I can recall days when 2,000 people read a blog post about something that one of our associates did to make an impact. The stories were often about an exceptional doctor, an exceptional patient, or an exceptional employee who went above and beyond to do something memorable. Some of them were uplifting, encouraging stories of healing, while others shared the challenges and heartaches that are unavoidable.

What I do know is that patients always have a choice about where they receive their healthcare and I am proud that they often chose the CJW team. They rarely chose us because of the technology we offer or the facilities we built, but most often they chose us because of the caliber, talent, compassion, and high integrity of the people working in our hospitals. In fact they chose each of you more than any hospital in Richmond. Through the blog I have shared our patient volume growth because it is a great indicator of the continued vote of confidence for your work. In 2016, close to 160,000 ER patients, 18,000 surgery patients, 35,000 inpatient admissions, and hundreds of thousands of outpatient will come to one of our facilities. That isn’t by accident but rather a purposeful decision to trust each of you with their lives.

Thank you for all that you do. I look forward to continuing to watch CJW flourish as a premier healthcare provider in our community.


Thank You

It has been an honor and privilege serving as the CEO of Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals (CJW) for the last four years. I am always impressed and proud of the compassionate, high quality care provided by the CJW employees and medical staff. It is clear that the impact you continue to make in our community is significant based on the countless expressions of gratitude from patients and family members. Over twenty years ago, I chose to work in healthcare because I recognized the impact and wanted to participate in meaningful work for a purposeful cause. My time in the hospital environment has given me that great opportunity.

Today, I share the news that I will be transitioning to a new role with HCA as the President of the Capital Division, based here in Richmond, on August 1st. I am fortunate to follow in the footsteps of great leaders who also shared close bonds with CJW like Marilyn Tavenner, Margaret Lewis, and most recently Rob Carrel. In the new role, I will have responsibilities for HCA’s hospitals in Virginia, New Hampshire, Indiana, and Kentucky and will continue to work closely with Chippenham & Johnston-Willis. I look forward to serving these organizations as they focus on being exceptional places to work and receive medical care.

In the next few weeks we will finalize an interim leadership plan for CJW in addition to starting a nation-wide search for my replacement. I have appreciated the opportunity to get to know so many of you and have every confidence this organization will continue to make a difference in the broader Richmond community.

Summer Is Here!

iStock_91296327_MEDIUM.jpgAs adults most of us look forward to the summer so we can enjoy getting out of the house. It is certainly not the same enthusiasm we once felt as a child waiting for summer. Do you remember what it was like to be a kid counting down the last days of school and waiting with baited breath for the freedom that summer promised? I had a few of our associates at CJW ask their kids what summer meant to them and here is what they shared:

Emma Looney – 7 years old (daughter of Maggie Looney, physical therapist): “I can’t wait until summer so I don’t have to go to bed when it’s still light out!”

Elaina Coviello – 17 years old (daughter to Becky Coviello, nurse director of pediatrics): “The school year ending is bittersweet. I am going to miss seeing my teachers and school friends every day, but am excited to be working in the summer along with spending time with family and friends. The end of summer will be exciting because I am a rising senior once I finish out this year and the thought of college is exciting.”

Grace James – 11 years old (daughter to Lia James, neonatal clinical educator): “I am sad to leave my teachers and my friends in elementary school but very excited to spend time with my family at the beach and not have any homework. I just need to learn how to work a combination lock.”

Franklin Hawkes – 11 years old (son of Aurora Hawkes, IT technical analyst): “I am ready to be out of school so I can give my brain a break from being in classes everyday but I will miss my friends and teachers.”

Cameron Hawkes -13 years old (also son of Aurora Hawkes): “[I am most excited about] being a high schooler but I wish I could go straight to 9th grade and skip the summer break so that I can see what it’s like and be with my friends.”

Moss Haushalter – 7 years old (son of Brandon Haushalter, CEO JW): “I forward to going fishing with my dad in the river. I am also excited about summer camp.”

Gibby Haushalter – 3 years old (son of Brandon Haushalter): “I am going to see Finding Dori with Kaki (grandmother). We are also going to go to the library and pick out some fun books to read together!” (As a three year old, he can’t think past his excitement of today’s activities!)

Georgia McManus – 10 years old (my daughter): “I love summer because I get time off from school and don’t have to do homework plus I get more time to play. I won’t have to wake up as early in the summer. I am going to miss all my friends and my teacher Ms. Clark who was really nice.”

Ava McManus – 8 years old (my daughter): “We get more time to play with our friends but the only bad thing is some of my friends don’t live nearby so I won’t see them as much. I won’t miss doing school work. I don’t like doing that work every day because it takes a lot of time away from the weekdays.”

If you would like to share your kid’s thoughts please add them as a reply to the blog. I hope you are able to spend some time with your family and friends enjoying the great Virginia summer.

A Second Chance: Robert Clay’s Heart Story

Utilizing cutting edge technology and promoting impactful clinical advancements have long been the hallmarks of patient care at Chippenham & Johnston Willis Hospitals.  It is clear that our physicians and clinical care team’s exceptional skills have had a lasting impact on the greater Richmond community. It is this steadfast commitment that has brought about the latest advancements in cardiac care with our introduction of the Left Ventricular Assisted Device (LVAD).  Many may recall that this technology was made famous in recent years by Vice President Dick Cheney’s LVAD experience in Northern Virginia, where he had one implanted prior to his heart transplant.  It truly gives precious time to patients who are awaiting heart transplants, or in other cases may even be a permanent therapy.  In the past, many of these patients did not make it as they awaited a new heart because the list of recipients far exceeded the supply of donors.

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Chippenham recently cared for Robert Clay, a remarkable man who was willing to share his LVAD story because he said it gave him the gift of a second chance.  Mr. Clay, a 58-year-old urban planner for Chesterfield County has lived in our community for almost 30 years. His health care story began in 1998 when he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure after feeling continually and unexplainably exhausted.  While there are many examples of patients who do well exclusively on medications to manage their disease, others unfortunately progress to the level where a heart transplant is needed.  Mr. Clay was the latter.

Throughout the past 18 years he was periodically admitted to the hospital to manage flare ups as a result of his medical condition. By his own admission, he would start feeling better and assumed he was improving, and then became less compliant with his medications.  Unfortunately, in February and March of 2015, he was hospitalized for complications from congestive heart failure and a defibrillator was implanted.  Mr. Clay was again admitted in the fall, and it quickly became clear that he needed a heart transplant.  The risks and benefits of implementing an LVAD as a bridge to transplant were discussed and planned out.

He attributes his interaction with Dr. Andrew Keller, heart failure specialist at Chippenham, as being instrumental in developing a plan along with Dr. Leo Gazoni, cardiovascular surgeon.  Through their dialogue they discussed the possibility of implanting an LVAD.

Mr. Clay recently shared with me that “Dr. Gazoni is a wonderful surgeon.  He told me all the pitfalls and didn’t leave out any of the significant possible outcomes.  He laid all the cards on the table and was very caring.  He enjoys what he does and enjoys helping people.  I found him to be a wonderful person.  Even after the surgery, while Dr. Gazoni was on vacation, he would still come by on a regular basis.  I can’t say enough about him.  All the staff was just great.  They were an extension of my family.”

Mr. Clay’s LVAD procedure took place on December 1st and he spent about six weeks in the hospital.  He had the LVAD for about four months and eventually was moved up on the transplant list. He received a new heart from a donor less than two months ago at VCU.  To date, he hasn’t yet met the donor family but says he is eager to do so in the future.

Mr. Clay recognizes he was given a second chance at life and just last week was able to return to work.  More importantly he has the opportunity to thrive with his wife of 32 years and looks forward to enjoying the next chapter of his life. They have finally been able to make plans to travel on a cruise in the coming summer months.  His 18-year-old daughter is now attending nursing school at Norfolk State University.  She chose this profession partly because of what she saw her father go through in his heart care.

He is quick to admit that he didn’t expect his recovery to be as smooth as it has been to date.  He shared “I expected the process to be more debilitating than it actually was.  I was genuinely pleased with the care I received.  The people who were involved in my care really cared about what they do.  They are magnificent.”  He went on to say “I am a religious person.  I have great faith.  My advice is to make sure you have a good support system.  My family and my church are my support system. I attend Village of Faith ministries in Chesterfield.  The other advice I would give is to work with the medical professionals and be a participant in your care and not just a bystander.  Each time I would ask more questions.  I am as much responsible for my healthcare as you all are.  You have to participate and not just stand on the sidelines and watch.”

I appreciate Mr. Clay for trusting our skilled and compassionate providers who so significantly impacted his great outcome.  He was so thankful of all the team members who contributed to his care.  He could have chosen other hospitals and other teams yet he chose these doctors and their support teams to give him a new lease on life.

3,000th Gamma Knife Procedure

This month, Johnston-Willis Hospital (JW) performed its 3,000th Gamma Knife procedure, which provides life-changing treatment for patients with brain tumors, facial pain, and other movement disorders. I have friends who have been saved by Dr. K Singh Sahni, so I know first-hand how impactful this procedure can be to our patients.

GK Sahni

I recently spoke to Dr. Sahni who told me, “We pride ourselves on the personalized care that our patients get at Johnston-Willis. We treat the cancer patient in a multi-disciplinary approach which includes the radiation oncologist, the medical oncologist, and the neurosurgeon. Our patients with brain cancer live longer because of the comprehensive and detailed approach.”

Gamma Knife is a less-invasive method of treatment, which uses approximately 200 beams of radiation to precisely target tumors, while having minimal impact on surrounding tissues. Compared with traditional open surgery, Gamma Knife surgery is gentler and can be performed in a day, leading to shorter recovery times. The patient’s head does not have to be shaved; instead they wear a helmet with small holes, allowing radiation to travel to specific areas in the brain. The patient can usually leave the same or next day, compared to several weeks in the hospital with traditional surgery.

JW obtained its original Gamma Knife in 2004, and it is still the only hospital in Richmond and only one of three in Virginia to offer this advanced radiosurgery system. This volume makes JW one of the largest Gamma Knife centers in the country.

“Over the last 12 years this sophisticated technology has offered hope to many patients, whose brain tumors previously may have been inoperable. Our team has a lot to be proud of for the impact on our community and region,” said Dr. Sahni.

Johnston-Willis Hospital is the only Joint Commission certified brain tumor center in Virginia and the number one non-academic medical center for Gamma Knife treatment. Congratulations and thank you to the JW Neuroscience team. I am proud of the work being done by this team of experienced clinicians.


CJW Talent Show


The Employee Advisory Groups (EAG) at Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals (CJW) have come up with many novel ideas over the years to recognize individuals and celebrate the great employees working at our facilities.  Most recently they launched the first CJW Talent Show to spotlight the diverse talents of our employees and their families.  The night was another reminder of the power of strong culture where people not only work together but support each other’s passions.  The event was held at the Double Tree Hotel this week and the occasion was nothing short of spectacular.  Over 200 people attended to watch their friends in a totally different light.  It was also a fund raiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  The talents ranged from singing and dancing to comedy skits.  I am not sure the musical spectrum could have been any broader as we heard rap, gospel, classic rock, country, and ballads.  There was even a newly formed (one time only band) aptly titled “The Scrubs” comprised of Dr. Adam Henercroth anesthesiologist, Pete Long-Innes, associate administrator, and me playing a song medley of Adele, Tommy Tutone, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Have no fear, the band is unlikely to reunite.

After careful deliberation the three judge panel awarded trophies:

  • 1st placeSpotlight Company – Makayla Kraetsch, daughter of Laurie, an employee at JW’s ICU and a member of our EAG.
  • 2nd placeThe Bamboo Dancers – Joan Ylarde, nurse at JW’s OP department, and company.
  • 3rd placeJ Unity– employees from Chip and JW; entered into the show by Karen Coleman-Dixon, laboratory assistant at Chip.

Needless to say, it was a great event put on by Crystal Garcia, Michele Woolson, and the Johnston-Willis Employee Advisory Group.  Thanks for all your great work; I look forward to many more acts in 2017!


Who Doesn’t Get Excited About Babies?

I am excited to share that Chippenham Hospital launched our midwifery program this month. This important evolution of our women’s health service line represents our ongoing commitment to offering broad options with personalized care. The art and technology of medicine has evolved so rapidly in recent years that we sometimes forget midwifery, which is one of the very important and influential roots that helped develop birthing care options throughout history. Today, our hospital recognizes that there is a need to add the option of midwifery to our already impactful, traditional OBGYN services. I am a believer that the two offerings don’t compete with, rather they complement, each other to allow us to customize birthing to the expectant mother’s preferences. One of the common terms you hear about midwifery is “low tech, high touch”.

WHNP_01aChippenham Hospital has brought two highly skilled midwifes, Ashlie Buell, CNM, WHNP and Jennifer Walker, CNM, WHNP, to our program to ensure great success. I spoke to Jennifer this week, following her first delivery at Chippenham, and asked her share some of her insights.

Tim: How long have you been a midwife and why did you decide to become one?

Jennifer: I have been a midwife in Richmond since 2010 and prior to that I was an RN for 5 years. I just love the birth experience and knew that I wanted to care for other women having had eight children of my own (now ages 17-33 years old). I am very proud that my oldest is an OBGYN resident.

Tim: What is most exciting about starting this program?

Jennifer: I am excited about expanding the practice of midwifery in Richmond. Our focus is letting women take control of their births. Midwifery care starts with longer office visits that teach them about the experience and their options to let them customize their experience. When they start labor they do what is best for them which may include how they position themselves, the use of tubs, eating and drinking, pain medication options, among other things. Those options weren’t always historically the standard. I encourage them to do what feels right. For some women, that delivery includes getting an epidural to help manage the birthing pains. I feel it is important to give women a voice and to be heard and to have a chance to make decisions regarding their care.

Tim: What are biggest misconceptions about midwives?

Jennifer: There is a common misperception that midwives only support natural child birth (without medication). We leave the use of an epidural entirely up to the mother. We also offer Transcutaneous Electrical nerve Stimulation (TENS) unit for mother who choose to include that technology in their birth plan which delivers electrical stimulation to the back to distract away contraction pain.

One of the other inaccurate beliefs is that midwives only deliver babies at homes in bath tubs. While there are those clinical offerings out there, we deliver exclusively in the hospital which allows us to have the entire clinical team nearby including an OBGYN if needed. If the patient needs a cesarean section the OBGYN is there to provide the procedure. In that circumstance we remain with the mother throughout the birthing time and beyond. This atmosphere and partnership allows us to offer the safest conditions with everything immediately there for the mother’s needs.

Chippenham Hospital recently added hydrotherapy tubs to the midwifery service which utilizes warm water to help relax the patient. We don’t deliver in the tub but it often makes the contractions more bearable and can help transition them.

Tim: What excites you most about this new service at Chippenham?

Jennifer: I know it will be a clinical service with high patient satisfaction because of the personal approach. We want to spend significant time with each patient.

Tim: This week you delivered your first Chippenham baby. What was the experience like for you?

Jennifer: The nurses in Labor and Delivery were fantastic. They are very enthusiastic and excited to participate. This opens up midwifery to women who have not had it close to home. I just love this work and am thrilled to bring it to Chippenham Hospital which is closer to home for many women in our community.


To learn more about Chippenham’ s services visit: or call 804-320-4967