Michael Stewart SM CEO

Saline Memorial CEO Michael Stewart speaks to the Greater Bryant Chamber of Commerce's Highlight Bryant at the hospital on Thursday. 

During the Greater Bryant Chamber of Commerce's Highlight Bryant for September at Saline Memorial Hospital, the hospital CEO updated business and community leaders about the focus of the hospital under his tenure. 

Michael Stewart has been been in his role as CEO for 10 months. 

The first focus is quality. He said as a hospital they are looking at what it can do to make the community healthier. 

"Everything we do ... has to be to make the community healthier," Stewart said. 

For his definition of quality, Stewart said he looks not only across Arkansas, but across the country and the world for the best practices to bring into the hospital. 

He told the crowd that the hospital is pushing for as many accreditations as possible, which means quality and care must be the best and consistent. He added the hospital is one of the few in Arkansas that are accredited for bariatric through Medicare. 

He said the hospital works to be top of each ranking, though he acknowledged that due to the fact that rankings are based on data a few years behind, the rank may not be as high until later years. 

While quality is important, Stewart said the hospital's most important resource is people. 

The hospital is working to recruit strategically. 

"We want physicians who are going to commit to us," he said, explaining he is looking for physicians to be in and part of the community, not just see patients a few days a week. 

He told the crowd he wants physicians people will see in the grocery store or at church. The hospital is seeking staff from across the country to live and work in the county. 

The third focus he said has to be the hospital's bottom line. He said when he was younger a nun told him "no money, no mission."

He sees his job is to be a good steward of the hospital finances. That means he has to look at the resources and see what makes the most sense for the community. He added that while some things may be cut that might make people unhappy, it is more important to ensure the hospital keeps the lights on for the long term. He said as one of the county's largest employers he needs to make sure he keeps the hospital going to keep people's jobs. 

Stewart said one of his goals is to be transparent. He has a blog where he updates what is going on with the organization. 

One member of the audience told Stewart during the question portion about her husband's recent shoulder surgery. She was initially skeptical of using Saline Memorial Hospital. 

"We had the absolute best experience of my husband's 40 plus surgeries," she said. "They were just fantastic." 

Another audience member asked about his biggest challenge and what the community could do for the hospital. 

Stewart's response is the biggest challenge is trying to keep the culture stable though it has been through three owners in three years. He said he is working to ensure the hospital is moving in the right direction. 

To help, he said, the leaders of the community can work to continue to grow their businesses and the community. The more growth in the community, the more specialists the community can support. 

The last question he answered was about how the hospital is integrating technology. Stewart said the hospital is already integrating many technologies and looking into more, such as 3D mammography. 

"There is so much technology in a hospital," he said. 

The Chamber plans to hold the next Highlight Bryant in October. The information will be posted at www.bryantchamber.com

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