“The hospital belongs to the community,” James Ross said during a one-on-one interview last week. The new president of the Chester River Health System, Ross began meeting and greeting people in the community, starting with the Martin Luther King breakfast. Ross sees his core job as “helping people.” He is a strong advocate of getting the hospital out in the community with programs of education, health screenings, and other ways beyond four walls.
Ross makes it a point to be a visible presence wherever he works, talking to the hospital staff, to patients, to visitors, to people in the community. He said he was especially impressed with the number of volunteers at CRHC, which he characterized as “a gigantic number for the size of the community.” His first priority is finishing the hospital’s strategic plan, which ought to be completed in March or April. He said the hospital would make the plan public to give the community a better sense of where it is headed.
Ross said his goals include expanding the capacity of the emergency room and upgrading the nursing stations. Improving the flow of patients through the hospital is also important, he said, noting that as a newcomer he was especially aware of how confusing it could be to find the way from one department to another. Another goal is to recruit specialists not currently available in the community. Some of those may be brought in on a “circuit rider” basis, covering several different hospitals in the University of Maryland Medical System of which CRHS is a part.
“Telemedicine,” which allows real-time video consultation with specialists in distant locations, is also a growing trend in medical practice, Ross said. It makes cutting-edge expertise available in remote areas like the Shore, saving time and travel for both patients and doctors. He also noted that the hospital has installed a good deal of new technology, including a 64-slice CT scanner, an MRI unit, and a cardiac catheter lab. He pointed to the renovated cardiac rehabilitation center as a key upgrade.
Ross comes to CRHS from a similar position at the James Lawrence Kernan Hospital in Baltimore, a 133-bed orthopedic hospital. He has worked in hospital administration since 1974, shortly after graduation from the University of Baltimore, with stops at the UMMS Shock Trauma Center and the St. Joseph Hospital in Lancaster, Pa. A Baltimore native, Ross ended up in hospital administration largely by accident. After college, he was working as a shoe salesman when a college friend told him about a job at University of Maryland hospital, offering better hours and working conditions. He took the job and except for a brief return to sales, he has been in the field ever since.
Ross and his wife have already taken the first steps in moving to Kent County, living near Worton Point while they look for a permanent home. He said he has enjoyed waking up to the sound of wild geese and seeing herds of deer out the dining room window. He is also eagerly exploring the local selection of restaurants.