Dosher Memorial Hospital has a lot to celebrate this summer. June marks both its 93rd anniversary and the groundbreaking for its new emergency department as well as the implementation of a three-year expansion – the first phase of a longer growth plan.
No one is better suited to head up the festivities than Lynda Stanley, Dosher Memorial’s chief executive officer and president.
“I wanted to make Dosher a great place to work … and to make sure our community is receiving the health care it needs and deserves,” said Stanley, who has held leadership positions at the hospital for 37 years.
Stanley’s interest in medicine was sparked by her family members, who owned a family care home. When she realized her path was not that of a doctor or nurse, however, Stanley earned a degree in medical technology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. After graduating, she took a position at Candler Hospital in Savannah, Georgia, then came to Dosher Memorial in 1986 to manage the hospital’s laboratory.
At the urging of Dosher Memorial’s then-CEO, Arthur Pittman, Stanley obtained a master’s degree in health care administration. And there she found her calling.
“I saw the impact a health care administrator could make on patients, patient families and entire communities,” Stanley said. “When I think about the ability to leave our community better than how I found it, that explains why I was drawn to this field.”
Stanley has made just such an impact at Dosher Memorial, the small, nonprofit public hospital located in Southport, and its community. The facility is a critical access community hospital licensed for 25 inpatient beds and 64 skilled nursing center beds.
As its CEO, Stanley ensures the hospital’s daily operations, departments and patient care meet the highest of standards.
Before taking on the head role, Stanley previously was asked to serve as president of the hospital’s foundation. Though it was a new role for her, it was a good fit. While building development, Stanley had the opportunity to talk with residents who were unaffiliated with the hospital. Such informal information gathering, in addition to reviewing county health assessments, gave hospital staff unique insights into the community’s health needs and led to innovative programs such as the Brunswick Wellness Coalition. The coalition offers educational and other programs to reduce the county’s chronic health problems.
As Dosher Memorial’s president and CEO, Stanley has overseen new advancements in the hospital’s service lines, especially in technology. Patients in its emergency department are treated with technologies such as neurosurgery and telehealth, and robotic surgeries are an option for orthopedics patients.
Under Stanley’s stewardship, the hospital also turned around a decade-long deficit, a feat that has been central to its growing capabilities.
“These positive operating margins have allowed us to invest in new technology, equipment and talented providers so that we can continue to provide the best possible health care for the community while continuing to expand our service lines,” she said.
Dosher Memorial’s medical care has not gone unnoticed. The hospital recently received a four-star rating on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems’ patient surveys. In November the hospital was also recognized for excellence in hip and knee orthopedic surgery.
Now Stanley is heading up Dosher Memorial’s seven-year master facilities plan, intended to ensure the hospital can continue to provide quality medical care as the county experiences explosive population growth.
“We need to grow with our community,” Stanley said. “When you see that our county’s population has doubled in the past 20 years and that it remains one of the fastest-growing counties in the state, we know that infrastructure must keep pace with the number of people.”
The plan’s first phase, scheduled to be completed in three years, includes upgrades and renovations for the hospital’s emergency department, laboratory, pharmacy and central sterile space.
The new, 8,000-square-foot emergency department will include more treatment spaces and vertical chairs, intended to streamline wait times for patients with less severe injuries or illnesses, according to Stanley. The emergency department will house its own X-ray, lab draw station and registration desk.
The plan also calls for the construction of two provider pods in Oak Island and the addition of three provider workspaces at Dosher Medical Plaza on Long Beach Road so residents can easily access local primary care.
The price tag on Phase 1 of the master facilities plan comes to $15.4 million, and it is funded by a hospital tax paid by the residents of Smithville Township, according to Stanley.
“We have been saving these tax dollars for eight years, which are being reinvested in local health care,” she said.
Through her work at Dosher Memorial, Stanley has gained a comprehensive understanding of the hospital and its community.
“When you know your people and know your families,” she said, “you understand how to make the health care experience personal for them."