BY JOHN H. WALKER
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
After 13 months of living in an Elizabeth City apartment during the week and coming home to Tarboro on the weekends, Wick Baker is home.
Home as in Tarboro … home as in Vidant Edgecombe Hospital.
Baker is back in his familiar role as president and CEO of the facility after spending 13 months at the helm of Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City.
“It lasted a lot longer than we thought,” Baker said.
Vidant was in a management role at the county-owned Albemarle facility and when Sharon Tanner, the hospital’s CEO, and Ray Owings, the CFO, quit at the same time, the decision was made to send Baker.
On Friday, Baker said the switch was expected to take about six months, but the fact Pasquotank County officials had an RFP out to look at management operational options, it took much longer for the board to eventually choose Norfolk-based Sentara to manage the facility.
Now that he’s back, Baker is playing catch-up at the worst possible time — budget season.
Patrick Heins, who served as vice president for Patient Care Services before becoming president in Baker’ absence, has retuned to his old role.
“I’m reacclimating myself,” Baker said, his ever-present smile on his face.
He noted that as he was heading to Elizabeth City, numerous projects, such as the emergency department expansion and remodeling were just getting under way.
“I come back and they’re done,” he said.
“Now, we’re going the renovate some of the rooms, he explained. Baker noted that two rooms had been done so that staff could she what was coming down the road.
“All who have seen the have liked what they’ve seen, he said.
Baker said hospital staff is getting ready for the Affordable Care Act, better known the public as “Obamacare.”
“We trying to get caught up on the ins and outs so we know where we are.”
While much I still unknown about “Obamacare,” one thing that is known id that hospitals will re reimbursed less that in the past.
“Regardless of those changes and the challenges they present,” Baker said, or mission is to provide the best health we can in respect to be quality and cost.