Mike Diener, CEO of Fayette County Memorial Hospital, takes community care to the next level

By Ashley Bunton - abunton@civitasmedia.com

Every health care organization has the same struggles, said Mike Diener, but there haven’t been any big surprises since he was hired in August as Fayette County Memorial Hospital’s new CEO.

“What has surprised me,” said Diener, “is that I sensed I had a very committed group of caregivers here and I had that proven to me in the last six months. The folks here really care about this organization and they care about our community. They want our community to be healthy.”

Diener’s vision for the hospital is comprehensive of the community’s health needs and the challenges the organization faces as a business. Already the hospital has begun to re-brand the services available, changes that Diener said give patients and their families more comfort and care. It has been an ongoing process. Mammography and gynecological testing services for women moved to a new area of the hospital and were re-branded under the Women’s Wellness Center. The center’s design aesthetic focuses on giving women a comfortable and private experience. Since opening the Women’s Wellness Center in 2015, the hospital has seen an 11 percent increase in mammograms and over a 100 percent increase in the number of visits for gynecological services, which boosted Dr. Cynthia Morris into working a full-time position.

“From a strategic planning standpoint, it’s necessary for us to figure out how we can best serve the community, provide the services the community needs and that we’re capable of providing, and do so in an improved environment,” said Diener.

The hospital’s surgery center is another improved environment. It opened earlier this week, a move that received a lot of positive feedback from the community, said Diener. Those who now come into the surgery center with pre- and post-operative testing needs for same-day surgery will feel more comfortable and relaxed in the newly-remodeled waiting rooms and private patient rooms. Approximately 2,000 surgeries are performed at the hospital each year, ranging from something as small as a spot of skin cancer to more complicated procedures like gallbladder surgery.

“Previously the surgery center was in an older part of the hospital and it was kind of outdated. It was clean but it did not have as much privacy as we can now provide, there wasn’t as much room for the staff as we can now provide,” said Diener.

Remodeling the older parts of the hospital will continue to improve outpatient services. In addition, updates will be made to the emergency room department and is something Diener is focused on strategically. As the only emergency room department in the county, Diener said it’s important that people can remain close to home and receive the care that they need.

“I feel that we provide a high level of service from a quality standpoint,” said Diener, who said that the hospital’s strong group of providers and specialists have access to resources at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, as well.

Fayette County Memorial Hospital is owned by the county but operates on its own, with the county only supporting the EMS that takes on first-response calls throughout the county. The hospital’s partnership with the OSU Wexner Medical Center has been a tremendous asset that has allowed for the hospital to expand its services into specialized areas, like telemedicine, a consultation service performed over the internet from care givers in Columbus.

Looking at the market, Diener said people are driving an hour away to medical centers in places like Columbus to receive services that can be provided to them at Fayette County Memorial Hospital. With the OSU partnership, the community can receive quality care without having to leave far from home.

“They can receive the same quality of care that they could receive in Columbus but also get a sense that they’re being taken care of by community members,” said Diener. “We are never going to be able to provide the level of care that a center such as Wexner Medical Center can provide, but we can provide a level of care and then partner with Wexner to provide the next steps of care.”

Diener said care providers at Fayette County Memorial Hospital can work with a patient every step of the way to get them to the next level of care that they need. Diener’s vision to take the hospital to the next level assures that the community will receive the best care possible by “not only providing care to the sick,” said Diener, “but also improving the wellness of the community.”

Community wellness efforts, like the hospital’s ‘Walk with a Doc’ program and collaborations with the YMCA and the Fayette County Commission on Aging, are continuous. Diener said he wants to make sure that each provider is educating the community in how to live healthy lives.

With awareness of the day-to-day operations of the hospital, Diener said he is confident in the leadership abilities of the managing staff, but said new management strategies are being implemented through the use of an outside consulting firm specializing in leadership management. He said the management staff was recently required to attend a mandatory “Town Hall” meeting, and staff are encouraged to participate in the training and education offered to them at OSU, said Diener, and all nurses have access to the OSU clinical education library, a tremendous asset since it would be difficult for a hospital the size of Fayette County’s to provide such large resources.

Diener himself said he tends to read books that focus on the topic of leadership. Currently all members of the management team are reading the book “Hardwiring Excellence” by Quint Studer. Diener also reads a variety of periodicals that address healthcare, which he said is always changing.

And that change is something that brought him to Fayette County.

“I came here in August and it was really an opportunity for me to implement a lot of the things that I have learned over the years and hopefully assist this organization to serve our community far more effectively. I see an even mix of great potential and significant challenges. It’s really about us staying ahead of the challenges so that we can realize our potential. An organization our size in health care today is always going to struggle with finances. It costs a lot of money to provide quality healthcare,” said Diener.

Financially, the hospital relies on reimbursements through Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance and those who are uninsured and continue to pay their medical costs out-of-pocket. The Medicaid reimbursements don’t always cover the cost of providing quality health services, said Diener, but the hospital does rely on its community for fundraising. Fundraising will begin this summer to kick-start the updates in the emergency room department. Diener also mentioned that another goal for the hospital is to transition from being a for-profit corporation into becoming a community non-profit through restructuring the business into a 501(c)(3) organization. That transition began two years ago and Diener said the hospital is expected to begin operating as a non-profit Jan. 1, 2018.

“We are providing excellent care now,” said Diener. As the hospital continues to re-brand itself and increase patient services through specialty providers, he said the community can expect to receive world-class health care right here in Fayette County. “Sometimes there are problems, and we appreciate people calling in and letting us know. That’s part of growing as an organization.”


By Ashley Bunton


Reach Ashley at (740) 335-3611 or on Twitter @ashbunton

Reach Ashley at (740) 335-3611 or on Twitter @ashbunton