Healthy YOU Podcast, Episode 13: A chat with our CEO, Dr. Mike Dacey

July 13, 2023

Podcast Episodes
Healthy you episode 13

Title: Healthy YOU Podcast, Episode 13: A chat with our CEO, Dr. Mike Dacey

Host: Frankye Myers, Chief Nursing Officer for Riverside Health System

Expert Guest: Dr. Mike Dacey, Riverside President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

[00:00:00] Frankye Myers: From Riverside Health System, this is the Healthy You Podcast where we talk about a range of health related topics focused on improving your physical and mental health. We chat with our providers, team members, patients, and caregivers to learn more about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and improve overall physical and mental health.

So let's dive into learn more about becoming a healthier you..

All right. All righty. I'm really excited to have with us today, um, Dr. Mike Dacey. Dr. Dacey is the CEO and President for Riverside Health System, and I have the pleasure of working with him very closely. So Dr. Dacey, welcome.

[00:00:42] Dr. Dacey: Thank you. Have your own studio. Very nice. I

[00:00:43] Frankye Myers: do, I do. I do. Yeah, I do. Um, we're very happy about our studio, so thank you for your support of the Healthy You Podcast.

So, Dr. Dacey, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself.

[00:00:58] Dr. Dacey: Um, I. Well, I've been here for about five years now or so. Okay. Okay. Uh, come originally from, uh, from New England. Okay. You know, uh, weather's better here, so. Okay. Much people are, uh, uh, in general nicer here. Uh, but it's, uh, so I've been here about five years or so.

Okay. It was in New England for a long time. Before that, I

[00:01:21] Frankye Myers: do have new link. New England on my bucket list to visit. So, um, I recommend after Labor Day. After labor Day Day. Okay. I'll definitely keep that in mind. You are a physician by background. Yes. Um, and as a former critical care nurse, you are an intensivist.

So, um, I work very closely with intensivist in my time and tenure as a critical care nurse. So tell me a little bit about. Your work, uh, and how you ended up going down that particular path, uh, of medicine.

[00:01:50] Dr. Dacey: So I was, um, when I got into, um, Uh, medical school. My, my, my, my, my education was I was, I was educated by an elementary school by the Sisters of Mercy, and then the, um, the, uh, in high school by the Christian brothers and then college at Province College by the Dominicans.

And I get into Georgetown, but at that point I figured, you know, I'd do something different. And, uh, I went to medical school at gw. Okay. But the problem was that was about $20,000 a year. Okay. Back in the. Mid 1980s. Still a lot of money today. Uh, it was still a lot of money today. Yeah, absolutely. And so $20,000 was a lot.

And so I joined the Army Okay. Uh, to pay for it. Okay. And, uh, they paid for, it was a great, one of the best decisions I ever made. I mean, they paid for it. Right. And so that was, uh, and I, I did my residency at Walter Reed and then, um, and up in, in medicine, internal medicine, and then ended up, um, Spending, uh, my payback years, two of my payback years, uh, were here.

Okay. Uh, in the area here at Fort Ster. So I knew the, knew the area very well. Okay. And so, uh, then I did a fellowship in intensive care medicine in Pittsburgh when I got out. And, um, spent, uh, 18 years practicing, uh, intensive care medicine, uh, back in, uh, new England. Okay.

[00:03:06] Frankye Myers: Very good. Thank you for your service.

Thank you. In the military. Um, Okay. Did you, do you have any legacy?

[00:03:12] Dr. Dacey: Thank you for paying for my medical school.

[00:03:15] Frankye Myers: You're very welcome. Uh, do you ha I know I'm a legacy nurse. Anybody else in your family in medicine?

[00:03:21] Dr. Dacey: My, uh, mother's a nurse. Okay

[00:03:23] Frankye Myers: yep. Very good. You were nursed up. That she Absolutely, absolutely.

Good stuff there. Um, are you into sports? Uh, and do you have a favorite team? I was thinking it was the University of South Carolina as your favorite college team.

[00:03:37] Dr. Dacey: Um, so no. One of the other place I was stationed was Augusta, Georgia, which was very close to Columbia. Okay. So I know, I know that very well, but no, they're not, they're not my favorite team.

I, okay. No, I may, having trained at Pittsburgh, I'm a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Pittsburgh Steelers college basketball at Big East. Fans, Big East. Okay. I like the Steelers, which in this part of the country can be dangerous to say.

[00:03:59] Frankye Myers: I, I like, I like, I like the Steelers. Great team. Um, you know, as we think about improving health in our communities and the turbulence over the last three years, I know that you were very instrumental in our covid efforts and really, um, Led the helm and getting out and supporting Covid vaccination throughout Eastern Virginia.

So talk a little bit about how, um, your background really helped you to kind of help us navigate during that really trying time.

[00:04:32] Dr. Dacey: Well, I think, you know, I, to begin with, I think the instrumental people were the people taking care of the patients and Right, and. Doing, doing the work. And um, I just kind of helped facilitate right.

Every now and then. But, um, I think the big thing with getting through, um, a, a crisis or the pandemic certainly was qualifies as a crisis, was being proactive. Right? Right. Absolutely. And that's the one thing in intensive care medicine, you, you try, the whole field is set up so that you prevent small fires from becoming big fires.

Right. And you intervene early. Do. Things in a proactive way. And I think that's what we tried to do right, uh, during the pandemic and to a greater lesser extent, I think we did okay with that. Um, as, as a, as as a leadership group. I mean, the, the people take care of the patients did spectacularly well. Uh, but we, uh, we tried to be proactive, right?

And so, uh, when the, when it was clear the vaccines were gonna be, um, produced and they had vaccines, um, we, we tried to be proactive at the time they were. Uh, they, they required a lot of, uh, cold, cold storage, right? So we, I think we spent about $200,000 on, um, uh, ultra cold freezers, right? I think at one point.

And because we, that was the only way we could get the vaccines delivered, right? And so, and we didn't, weren't quite certain whether. It was really gonna work right, uh, with the, the vaccines at the time. And so we, we, but we spent the money beforehand and then all of a sudden those freezers became in huge short supply across the world.

So I think at one point Riverside had like half the ultra cold storage in the, in, in, in the, um, In the, uh, in the state. Literally we did have half the cold storage and we held vaccines for the other health systems and the region were able to help distribute them. Right. And then we helped the health department Right.

Actually give the vaccines and, um, their people did great work. But we, by working with both the health department and Sentara, right, uh, we were able to, um, uh, really vaccinated hundreds of thousands of people in a, in a, in a quick way. So that was a plus. That was a real plus. And it was, it was interesting.

Sentara is a great organization and working with them, um, previously they were obviously, you know, before then they were really our competitors, right? And so, um, but to be able to work with them in a crisis was, was, was really great experience and I think the whole team approach to it was, was really great.

Absolutely. Yeah.

[00:06:53] Frankye Myers: That just speaks to your leadership and really anticipating ahead. You know, what would be needed, um, to support us during that time. Uh, and that's one of the things I enjoy about working with you is that, um, you are still in tune, uh, with your time as a physician. Um, and the collaboration that we have, um, as a ceo.

Uh, of this system to Sure.

[00:07:16] Dr. Dacey: How bad the labor, labor situation is now. Yes, yes. I'm the ceo. Right, great!.

[00:07:22] Frankye Myers: Uh, but we're, we're doing some great things. Oh, sorry. Um, and, uh, I think we have some great plans in place. Yeah. Um, to, you know, nursing is starting to stabilize somewhat and so hopefully we'll, we'll get some of, um, those individuals back into the fold and, um, Over the next couple of years.

So what, what are two to three top priorities for you when you come in each and every day?

[00:07:44] Dr. Dacey: I think the biggest, the biggest, uh, challenge that, uh, not just healthcare, but every, every I. Yeah. Industry and business basis is finding people to, uh, to work, I mean, right. The, the, the pandemic had some short term effects, but it certainly has had some longer term effects in terms of, um, uh, people's view of work.

Uh, this question of hybrids, that's true. Remote work. Absolutely. You know, it, all of that has changed. The Pan pandemic has changed people's view of that. And so, um, people retired early. Right? People decided they would want to work part-time. Some people dropped out of the workforce entirely. Yes. So finding people is, uh, is, is, is a great, great challenge.

Absolutely. So that's one thing, and that's really the top priority. The second priority is, you know, finding a way to pay people, uh, because true pay has gone up, um, for most people really, uh, exponentially over the course of the last, um, you know, Two, two plus years. Yes, absolutely. And um, it's, uh, so finding ways to pay people what they, what they deserve to be paid.

Right. And, uh, that, that's, that's, that's a great challenge. And really what it means in, in healthcare is we have to find a way to, if we. Um, if we have to pay people more, we have to find savings in some other areas. So just to use an example, we just had a meeting with our supply chain people and you know, they save millions and millions of dollars in terms of some of the, the things that we purchase, whether it be medications, whether it be equipment like ventilators, right?

Whether it be, uh, all types of medical devices. And that's the kind of work that we have to do. So to take the savings we get from there and put it towards what we pay people, absolute, absolutely absolute. Uh, and even at the end of the day, once all that's done, You know, we, we, we usually at the end of every year have a very, very, very, very small right, uh, amount of money left over.

I mean, Riverside's almost a $2 billion company, and That's awesome. End of a good year. We have a, uh, well, we used to be, we used to be, we used to be a $1.8 billion company with inflation. Now we're a $2 billion company. Right. But the

[00:09:46] Frankye Myers: expenses have been gone,

[00:09:47] Dr. Dacey: but it takes more manage. That's right. But I, um, but, you know, and at the end of the year we, um, you may have.

20 million left over from, uh, from a bottom line to put towards the next year. So, so it really, um, it tho the paying people what they deserve to be paid and finding a way to do that is, is, is really the second priority. And, um, you know, I, I think the. The third priority is to actually make certain that we give our, um, our team members all that they need to do a high quality job.

Absolutely. Whether it be, um, the right medical equipment, the right staffing, right, uh, the right people in those roles. Uh, The right, uh, information technology things, right. Uh, and all of that, uh, costs money, but, uh, but making certain they put the resources so they can deliver really, really high quality care, which they do each and every day.

[00:10:39] Frankye Myers: Absolutely. And then as it relates to disease prevention and health promotion, um, you we're doing a lot of work. Uh, educating the community. Yeah. Um, talk a little bit about rmg. I mean, we have a large employed group of physicians. Uh, we are positioning ourselves to be out in the community, uh, so that we can support that education.

So we're seeing now. You know, when patients are coming to the acute care hospitals, they're sick. They're really sick. Yeah. What do you think that's attributed to?

[00:11:08] Dr. Dacey: Yeah, I think that's another effect of the pandemic. I mean, there was, there was a lot of delayed care for almost three years. Right? For sure.

And that, that takes its toll. Um, whether the pandemic itself had a lot of effect on people, right? I mean, there's this long covid syndrome and things, right? For whatever reason, people are staying a lot longer in the hospitals right now, about half a day more, which really creates. Con congestion absolutely.

In the hospitals. It's not just here, it's every hospital in the country. And, um, so that, that, that's a great challenge. I mean, um, and then, um, so. There's been a lot sort of the rise in both drug use and drug overdoses. The Fen, fentanyl, um, uh, crisis has been really, uh, really just terrible. Um, we see, uh, just an exponential rise in fe in, in drug overdoses over the last few years.

And then of course, violence, I mean shootings, you know, the medical center here is one of the, um, one of the busiest trauma centers in the he Mid-Atlantic. Absolutely. And it, uh, it does, they do. Tremendous work there, but you know, they see about 3,500 major trauma cases a year. And of that number, um, Really about 400 or so are shootings or stabbings.

Absolutely. And so, uh, that's a, that, that takes a great toll not just on people, uh, the victims, but also on the staff taking care of them. So trying to get them the resources they need. Yeah. But we, we, we, we wanna really be out in, in the community making certain we're meeting the needs. Absolutely. Um, as these ch these new challenges develop.

Um, and uh, a big part of that is the medical group. And so we now have about 750 providers, most of them doctors, but a growing number of nurse. Practitioners and physician assistants. Absolutely. And, um, they collectively see about, uh, it's an amazing number, but 1.2 million patient visits, uh, in the, uh, outpatient clinics each year.

Absolutely. And, um, we have about 230,000 active primary care patients. Right. And those panels, so it's a big, it's a big group. It's a growing enterprise. It's one of the biggest medical groups on the East coast. And, uh, it's a big reason why the, uh, the system is doing okay right now.

[00:13:15] Frankye Myers: Absolutely. And, uh, as I interact in the community and talk with some of my CNO peers, I mean, we are unique in that we're a totally integrated system from birth to end of life.

You, you don't always see that. Um, um, uh, and some of the complexities that go along with that, but talk a little bit about your journey to CEO and how you transitioned, you know, from. Physician And how did you end up in the, uh, executive space?

[00:13:46] Dr. Dacey: Yeah, I kind of, you know, I was, like I say, I was practicing medicine, very happy.

Um, after about, um, no. Um, 14, 15 years of being, um, back in New England. They, um, sort of like got kind of drafted into a, into a leadership job there as a chief medical officer. And, and then eventually became, uh, a hospital president. And then, um, this, this position came open here and I, uh, you know, From my time in the Army, had really, uh, knew the area well and knew Riverside very well, had a very good, uh, view of, uh, of Riverside from my time at Fort Eustis.

And so, uh, ended up coming back here. And they're great people. You know, absolutely. The whole, whole organization is, is, is great no matter who you meet. They're very dedicated towards, uh, providing the best care possible for the. For the patients or if you, in a support role supporting the people that are taking care of the patients.

And so it's good, it's, it's, it's a tremendous, uh, organization. They do a great work and it's a great, uh, it's a great, uh, experience, uh, being the, uh, being the ceo, you know, including working with you back, you know, good work. You, you know, you know,

[00:14:51] Frankye Myers: on most days, right? Dr Dacey??

[00:14:53] Dr. Dacey: No. Every, every day. Every day.

Every day. Yes. All right. Most days. Most days.

[00:14:57] Frankye Myers: Um, I, I would have to agree. Um, You know, I've been a nurse for over 32 years and

[00:15:04] Dr. Dacey: Wow. The work, you don't look that old.

[00:15:05] Frankye Myers: It's a lot of good products. So.

[00:15:08] Dr. Dacey: So 32 years, so you graduated from college when you're 18? No, no.

[00:15:13] Frankye Myers: I was definitely not getting out at 18 high school, but I really think our culture is by far the best.

Um, and you know, and every day I feel like there's a perfect balance between what we do, the heart of what we do. And the business aspects. And so we, we, we continuously keep the needs of our communities and patients at the forefront of what we're doing. So I'm, I'm excited to work with you and it's, it's always a pleasure.

Um, Any advice for someone who may want to, you know, um, move up within the healthcare space as an a leader who may be, uh, a provider or nurse or allied health professional.

[00:15:55] Dr. Dacey: You know, I think the, the first thing is you gotta be really good at whatever your, your, um, your primary profession or job is, right?

So if you're, if you're a, uh, if you're an accountant and you want to be a, um, a chief financial officer, someday you have to be really great accountant, right? Uh, you know, if you're a nurse and you want to move up in terms of leadership, you really have to be really great nurse. Same thing with role as a doctor.

And so if, because if you're really good at that, Then, then, then people will recognize that. Absolutely. And you'll get some offers to do other things. Um, that's the first thing. And then the, the second piece of advice, I guess is, um, always volunteer for things, even if you don't get paid for them money.

Absolutely. And uh, if you volunteer for things, then one, and you do well at it, one thing often leads to another. Absolutely. You know, and then finally, I think you treat people well and. Um, people, people appreciate that, particularly these days with, uh, the current environment. Always treat people with respect.

So those, those are the things I would say. Absolutely.

[00:16:53] Frankye Myers: I I would definitely have to agree. We used to call that, uh, you know, clinically if you were a clinical expert, you were tapped for leadership opportunities. Mm-hmm. And, and the rest you learn boots on the ground. Mm-hmm. Um, and so sometimes when you're not looking for that, and to your point, if you just do a great job, somebody will recognize that and wanna cultivate that talent as well.

Um, What else would you like to share with our viewers today? What's, what's a top priority for you going forward in the next couple of years?

[00:17:22] Dr. Dacey: Well, I think one of the big things we're trying to do is expand the, um, the educational programs that we have. Yes. You know? Yes. Um, we've talked about sort of the.

The, the, the care delivery programs. Right. Um, but it's, and those are growing certainly, but, uh, educational programs are growing, certainly educational programs at the College for Health careers. How many nurses do we have there now? Nursing students there? Ooh.

[00:17:45] Frankye Myers: Uh, in total right now, I mean, we have a couple hundred.

Yeah, yeah, we have a

[00:17:49] Dr. Dacey: couple hundred. And so we've got the programs, obviously the, the. The RN programs? Yes. Yes. We've got the, um, the diagnostic imaging, uh yes programs. Uh, a new ultrasound Yes. Program. And a new respiratory therapy school, which we're very excited about that. Medical assistants. Yes. And so, and so what, you know, expanding that will, will help both the people that are in those programs as well as the, um, as well as the.

Uh, Riverside overall. Absolutely. Cause we hire a lot of those people that come from there. So that's trying to, and they do a wonderful work. Um, they're educating people. Absolutely. And, uh, the, the graduates do very, very well. Um, and so that's one priority growing education. In my, on the medical side, we developing, we developed a new emergency medicine residency, which graduated its first class a week ago.

Week ago. Yes. And, um, And, you know, that was one residency added to the family medicine, the obstetrical residency, the transitional internship. Uh, and um, next year a new internal medicine residency will, will, will start at the medical center. And so that will be very positive. And any one given time, we have any given day Throughout the, the, the health system, we have hundreds and hundreds of.

Nursing students, medical students, residents rotating in different areas. And so continuing to grow that because there's a growing shortage of nurses. I mean, uh, you know, clinical people and all specialties, respiratory therapists, uh, diagnostic imaging. Doctors. And so the ability to actually, um, contribute to the education of those people is, is, is very importantly going forward.

Absolutely. And people don't realize it can be a great way of, you know, making a living. I mean, you know, cer certainly, you know, people, you know, demand is definitely there. People, doctors have always made a. A pretty good living. But, but, um, but increasingly, particularly recently, nurses do very, very well now.

Absolutely. And finally are being recognized for all the great work that they've, uh, they've done, uh, and, and across the board people. It's, it's a great way to make a living in healthcare. You're paid well, you help people. It's a very satisfying profession you can grow in. So we would like to be able to expand and continue to grow the educational Yes.

Offerings of the, uh, of Riverside.

[00:20:02] Frankye Myers: Absolutely. We have to own that. Right. And, and grow and develop our own. Absolutely. Uh, talk a little bit about Smithfield. Really excited about, uh, in the future we have another hospital. Hospital coming.

[00:20:13] Dr. Dacey: Yeah, so we were approved for the Smithfield Hospital last year, and we've begun the planning for that right now.

I think the construction's gonna begin in a few weeks. Um, it's a two year project to Okay. Uh, to, to more than two years to actually build a hospital. It'll be a 50 bed hospital. Yes. Uh, it'll be, um, Uh, I have four operating rooms, emergency department, a medical office building. Uh, it's a little more expensive than if it was gonna be, initially it was gonna be 125 million.

I, I won't tell you how much it is, but it's a lot more than 125 million to build, uh, given inflation and the supply chain problems. But, but we're, we're gonna go forward with it and, um, it'll open in, uh, late 20. 25. That's so exciting. Um, and so, and that's a growing area. Uh, a lot of people over there and, uh, growing community and we're very, uh, enthusiastic about what the future holds for Smithfield.

And people need a hospital in that I do in that area, in their community. And uh, you live

[00:21:13] Frankye Myers: near there, don't you? I do. I live in Suffolk. I'm really excited and it just really speaks to Riverside's commitment. To provide and access to care in some of those areas that, uh, rural areas that don't have, that's long-term investment.

[00:21:29] Dr. Dacey: Sure. It's a long-term investment.

[00:21:31] Frankye Myers: Absolutely. That's right. That's right. Absolutely. And lastly, um, just so excited about our work and the quality space. Um, I know you were very instrumental in putting in the infrastructure to support all of, uh, The great results that we've seen over the last couple of years as it relates to quality, safety

[00:21:49] Dr. Dacey: service?

Yeah. I mean, over the course of the last couple of years, all of our hospitals have been at one point or another, rated a, uh, by Leapfrog. Absolutely. Um, and, um, you know, it's, uh, I think it's, it's really the, the. The first priority is to be, be able to provide high quality care. And like I say, you know, our job, we don't provide the care.

Right. The people that do the tremendous work are the people taking care of the patients, but our job is to make certain they have their resources and absolutely everything they need in order to do a, a tremendous job. And they do do a tremendous job. Yes. And you see that in the, in the quality scores and the ratings and the patient experience scores Absolute.

That are going up. Absolutely. You know, excited about that and whether it be. Clinical people taking care of patients or the support people? I mean, one of the things that we'll be starting soon at, uh, at the medical center is the, uh, the room service thing, right? Yes. Yes. Right? Yes. Where, uh, you'll be able to, as a patient, you'll be able to order pretty much order, like on menu, much anything you want.

Well, I dunno if you can order, if you're, if you're, um, uh, uh, a diabetic patient may not be, be able to order the cheesecake or something like that, but I think you can, you can order

[00:22:51] Frankye Myers: it. They might not, it might not get delivered. Might be delivered, you know. They still have your

[00:22:54] Dr. Dacey: but it's restrictions. But even those things, you know, that that's, that's a big expense.

It is, it is. But it's great for patient experience. Absolutely. We've seen the patient experience scores go up, uh, across the board. Absolutely. And that's in all of our areas. Yeah. And that, that, that's a positive thing as well. So trying to do, do what we can to give the resources to people, uh, doing the work so they can take care of patients.

Absolutely. Um, and then making certain that people are, um, Um, you know, people feel that it's a, it's a great place to work. Absolutely. Um, and you know, one of the big issues that comes up, uh, recently is this, uh, workplace violence kind of thing. Yes, yes. It's a real, real challenge. Not just in healthcare, but but in every area, but Right.

Particularly in healthcare. In healthcare. And so we've invested a lot of, um, Uh, money, effort, resources to try and make certain people feel safe at work, you know, and it's, it's a tough, uh, it's a different world we live in now after the, after the pandemic and, um, uh, and we are very determined to make certain that, uh, that people feel safe at work.

Absolutely. And it's, uh, we think we're getting there, but we've still got a ways to go with that. Sure. But overall good, really good progress with quality, you know.

[00:24:02] Frankye Myers: Great, great. Great. Well, thank you so much for taking time outta your busy schedule to chat with us today.

[00:24:07] Dr. Dacey: Thank you for having me

[00:24:08] Frankye Myers: Now, this is just, we'll be glad to have you back anytime

[00:24:12] Dr. Dacey: and so when you've got a national podcast you can bring me, you can bring me back, you know.

Exactly. Oh, you probably wouldn't , you'll have George Clooney, you know, or whoever it is.

[00:24:22] Frankye Myers: That would be nice. That's right. Right, right. Exactly. Uh, keep up the great work. Thanks very much for, I look forward to just continued success for us. Um, at Riverside.

[00:24:31] Dr. Dacey: Well, thanks Frankye. Thanks very much. Thank you.

Thanks a lot,

[00:24:35] Frankye Myers: . Bye-bye. Thank you for listening to this episode of Healthy Youth. We're so glad you were able to join us today and learn more about this topic. If you would like to explore more, go to riverside online.com.

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