The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Jamie Cushman
Staff writer 

Q&A: New hospital boss focused on recruiting

Dick Smith was also the PRMC administrator 1999-2003


April 22, 2018

CLOVIS - Richard "Dick" Smith returned to Plains Regional Medical Center as hospital administrator on Feb. 26. Smith was also administrator at PRMC from 1999 to 2003.

Between his two stints at PRMC, Smith served as Curry County manager as well as with the board of directors for the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce and the Clovis Community College Foundation.

Smith spoke to The News on Friday to discuss his return to PRMC, the challenges facing the health care industry and what he has in store for the hospital now that he is back on the job.

Question: You were PRMC administrator from 1999-2003; what made you want to return to the position?

Smith: Well I think there were several things that came into this. I was fully retired but I was approached by members of the community and others who said, 'Dick, it'd really be nice if you were to come back as the hospital administrator.' And I felt like I was just needed and it just happened that way.

Q: How is your job different now than in 2003?

Smith: Oh gosh. I stayed in health care, I was a consultant for all of those years and stayed in health care other than the three years I was county manager here, so I knew what was going on in health care but the world of health care has changed so much ... I don't think it's any more hectic than it was then, but I think the ability to recruit providers such as physicians and nurses and techs, I think that's much more critical than it was in those days. I'm not certain why, but it just seems it's more difficult now than it used to be.

Q: You had other jobs in Clovis after your first stint at the hospital. Did those experiences provide any insight into the health care needs of the community?

Smith: You know, it does. It puts you in a different perspective, it gives you a telescope or something that you look at it from the outside and say how are we providing for the community, what needs do we have in the community, what are we doing well and what are we doing not so well. Everything in life is an experience with learning and certainly those were very instrumental in looking at what the community needs are and what I brought back to this job.

Q: What changes do you envision coming to PRMC during this tenure as administrator, if any?

Smith: Very robust recruiting in terms of physicians and always recruiting for nurses. The community college has a great program for nurses and without it I don't know what we would do honestly in this community. That and the (radiologic technology) program and the phlebotomy program are all great for us. But primarily in recruiting a strong, long-lasting physician base in terms of specialty physicians - that's the big thing that I think I'm charged with right now.

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing PRMC and the health care field right now?

Smith: Reimbursement is a big issue. All the programs, insurance companies, Medicare, Medicaid, there's just less money in those programs so managing better with less, which is a constant challenge. Having fewer providers and the recruitment of providers is right at the top of the list. And certainly the quality of care has to stay good; we have to have excellent quality of care. So those three things I think would be what I would say are the biggest challenges facing us right now.

Q: What do you think is PRMC's biggest weakness?

Smith: Again I keep coming back to the same subject with you but right now probably the lack of those providers, specialty providers.

Q: And what is PRMC's greatest strength?

Smith: Our people, without a doubt. We have some of the most dedicated nurses, physicians, technicians, staff, support staff. It's just really amazing when you see the dedication of our people toward health care for this community and that has to be our biggest strength, and will be our biggest strength.


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