SOUTH RENOVO Following a several-month search, Bucktail Medical Center has found a new administrative leader. Thomas Foster began his duties just a little over a week ago.
A first for the center, Foster has been titled CEO. Previously those with the top management spot have had the title administrator.
Foster is no stranger to taking management positions in hospitals where change is a goal, not even in Clinton County. He served as senior manager at Lock Haven Hospital for nearly seven years, leaving that position in 2010. Foster was part of the Health System Transition Team, he said, and now that he is at Bucktail, he is dealing with many of the same providers he already has a working relationship with.
Thomas Foster is the new CEO of Bucktail Medical Center in South Renovo.
The new CEO was raised in Troy, Pa., a community he likened to Renovo, with one small hospital. After graduating high school, he went to a small college in southern Virginia where he again enjoyed the small-town lifestyle, he said.
He resides in Bellefonte with his wife.
Foster said he has often taken positions in struggling nursing homes, including his most recent position in Philadelphia.
"It was honestly within weeks of being closed, it had issues financially, and regarding the quality of healthcare, we rebuilt it from scratch" he said.
The site had been identified as a "special focus facility," he added, which happens to poorly-functioning nursing homes and hospitals. He and his group were able to help it graduate to a higher level, he explained.
It is this background in efficiency that Foster says makes him the right fit for his stay in South Renovo - he has been inked to a three-year contract.
"I think that I understand the scope of challenges better than previous administrators," he said. "I know what it is going to take to put us up to par. When I sit at the table with my counterparts, my expertise and background help them to take me seriously; they will recognize that the BMC now has a seat at the table."
Foster said he has traveled all over the country acting as a healthcare management consultant and implementing software systems.
So, what exactly does he see for the future of the Bucktail Medical Center?
"The facility has some real opportunities, it is vital to the area and very functional," Foster said of his first impressions. "We need to take a look at how we provide the services that are needed with regards to its remote location."
Tele-Medicine is a program the center staff hope will soon become a reality. It should be considered for treatment of injuries like severe burns, Foster said, not only because of BMC's isolated location but also considering the employment in the area, including well-drilling. The center could become completely linked with Lehigh Valley Burn Center, so doctors there, using real-time audio and video, could help BMC stabilize victims while they are still in South Renovo. The sooner a burn victim can be stabilized, the better the recovery period for the victim, Foster said. Time lost in transportation can have a dramatic impact on that recovery period, he explained.
While considering options for services, Bucktail Medical Center will undergo an occupancy survey in August through the Department of Health, with the goal of gaining department approval.
As Foster continues to assume the roles required by his new CEO position, he hopes the future of BMC can mirror those of his previous stops, something he certainly has in common with the new community he serves.