A new path for health care

Partnerships and collaboration to replace health care mergers.
1122 Editorialcontent Exec Profile

Years ago, while still in college, James Arnett had a heart-to-heart discussion with his dad and discussed his career plans. Stressing the importance of knowing what he wanted to do, his dad pointed out that it was equally important to map out his path. This measured approach served Arnett well as he transitioned from COO at UnityPoint Health–Meriter to president and CEO. We sat down with Arnett to discuss challenges in the industry, mergers in the market, and his latest passion project — a $6.9 million facility called the Jeff Levy Education Center.

Your organization has seen its share of mergers. Are more coming?

No, we’re going to see more collaboration and more partnerships. I think our industry will use words like that in the future, but partnership can mean a lot of different things. We’re still our own entities, but we try to do our best to work cohesively with each other to make sure we’re putting the patients in the right place with the right quality at the right time. For years, we’ve said the patient is at the center of what we do. You really fulfill that promise when you’re less concerned about the business framework and more concerned about how you deliver care.

What is your biggest challenge right now?

It’s frankly something that every industry is dealing with right now, which is the workforce shortage. And in health care in particular, we’ve seen this coming for some time. Clearly, the pandemic is what exacerbated it, but we projected shortages in our industry before the pandemic ever hit. Something like 20 million people have left the workforce during the pandemic. Folks have realized how to live life differently, and I think the workforce has reflected this.

Tell us about your current passion project.

Through a wonderful gift from Jeff Levy, and in working with the community, we’re building a one-stop shop for educational and front-end needs of our current labor pool. This will not only help the people who want to join us but the people who are already here. It will make sure they have the education and support needed to continue to progress in our industry.

This helps our organization and the greater community. For example, we successfully hire and train a nurse in our industry, and because that nurse is likely to move between organizations, this training makes sure they have a really strong foundation, wherever they go.

That helps everybody [in the industry]. The facility will be physically ready right around the corner, and then content and operational stuff will follow shortly afterward. So, when you talk about passion, that’s something we’re very excited about.

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