By Lanier Laney
Rick Toomey has been President and CEO of Beaufort Memorial Hospital for the past five years during which the hospital has seen unprecedented growth. The many additions include a new Women’s Imaging Center, expansion of their Bluffton Medical Services facility, a new da Vinci robotic surgery program, expanded breast care programs, and the development of the Beaufort Memorial Physician Partners program which recruits new physicians to better serve the needs of the community.
Also, construction has begun to double the size of both the Pratt Emergency Center and the LifeFit Wellness Center. Beaufort Memorial has consistently been named among the “Most Wired” hospitals in the nation for its early adoption and integration of medical technology to improve patient care, and has also been recognized for its commitment to patient safety, low infection rates and patient satisfaction.
Rick oversees 1,400 employees who provide medical services to more than 10,000 patients admitted every year, 40,000 ER visits and almost 140,000 outpatient registrations a year. Says Rick, “Our employees are excellent — focused on providing exceptional care — with our core values of integrity, communication, compassion, responsibility and safety. We also have a nine member board that is very dedicated in providing governance, oversight and direction. They represent the community and invest many hours to help assure we are addressing the needs of the community.”
Rick grew up in Greenville, S.C., where his father was President and CEO of the Greenville Hospital System and involved at both the state and national level. Rick said, “I was able to travel with him to many meetings. Everyone I met was both interesting and seemed to enjoy their work — I decided that being in health care administration would be a great field to be in. I am very lucky to have known what I wanted to do and to have had the chance to be involved in the career I thought I would love early on.”
Rick attended Duke University where he got his undergraduate degree and a Master’s Degree in Health Administration and later on received a Doctorate in Health Administration from MUSC. He went on to work for Nash Health Care, a top-ranked general hospital in Rocky Mount, N.C. In January 1998 he was appointed president of Nash and also married Dr. Linda Hawes, his wife now of 14 years who was a nephrologist at Nash with a large group practice in Rocky Mount. His life certainly changed as he joined a family of three young girls. His stepdaughters are Katie (now 26), Emily (24) and Julie Bynum (21).
Rick had grown up spending summers all along the S.C. coast, from Hilton Head in the 60’s all the way up to Litchfield. He knew he always wanted to retire to the area because of his genuine love of the Lowcountry and the welcoming people he had met here. When Rick heard that Beaufort Memorial was looking for a CEO, he thought “someone was opening the door and I had to investigate.” And although BMH was a smaller facility than Nash, Rick said, “I saw such great opportunities (and challenges) in the area that made me excited about joining the BMH team.” He was excited to be selected by the search committee and the board and has loved being a part of the BMH team. Rick said the philosophy behind his work is: “Let people do their jobs, help them solve issues, and create an atmosphere of team work. I believe that one’s life needs to be in balance — you need to look forward to coming to work — to have an environment at work where you enjoy what you do, and hopefully you look forward to going home. If your life is not in balance, something will suffer. We can try to provide a great place to work.”
The only bump in his own home life “balance” came when Rick, who is an avid Duke fan, first attended a Duke vs. UNC basketball game with his new wife Linda who went to UNC Medical School and worked for years in UNC Hospitals and was big a UNC fan.
“Duke won at the last minute,” Rick said. “We left the game and did not know what to say to each other. And we knew since I had bought Duke season tickets, we would be attending many more games. Friends say that I slowly brain washed her as she went over to the Dark (blue) side. We have been to several final fours.”
It’s a good thing they are both Duke fans now because BMH is affiliated with Duke Medical Center in heart and cancer care, which has been a great asset in improving top quality services to the Beaufort community, he said.
Rick has been on several board of directors for other organizations and was just re-elected to a second three year term on the S.C. Hospital Association. He is also justifiably proud of the job that Beaufort Memorial is doing. “Our mission is to deliver superior healthcare services to our patients and to improve the health of the community,” Rick explains.
The hospital first opened in 1944 and now has an operating budget of more than $180 million a year. It’s unique in that it’s the only nonprofit or tax-exempt hospital between Savannah and Charleston. “Our net income is retained to replace equipment, add new technology and to invest in new services or buildings,” said Rick.
That’s why the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation, which raises charitable funds for the hospital programs and facilities though wonderful annual fundraising events — like The Valentine Ball, The Duke Symphony Orchestra in Concert and the Honor a Caregiver campaign — are so crucial to the future of the hospital. Says Rick, “Alice Moss (Executive Director) and her staff and all the volunteers have done just an amazing job helping the hospital and our community through all of their fundraising efforts.”
As for his future, Rick says, “Linda and I plan to be here for a long time (work plus retirement). We just love all the diverse activities available through the year and the great people of this community.”
Thanks so much Rick and also the entire staff and doctors of the Beaufort Memorial Hospital and the foundation for your ongoing contributions to help make Beaufort a much better, healthier place for all of us to live.