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New executive officer ready to lead St. Joseph Hospital's growth

Friday, August 29, 2014 - 7:49 am

As Fort Wayne's downtown grows, St. Joseph Hospital is responding by developing and expanding services to meet residents' needs.

Five weeks ago, Kenneth Jones took over the role of executive officer at St. Joseph. Jones had been the CEO of The Orthopedic Hospital of Lutheran Health Network since March 2013. St. Joseph Hospital is expanding its orthopedic services, so Jones has come to his job at a good time.

Jones said there are several key characteristics hospital administrators look at: patient outcomes, quality of care, safety and patient experience. He will be tracking physician and patient satisfaction and timeliness of services. All of these are things that can be looked at across multiple specialties.

"From a leadership standpoint, communication skills, problem solving, critical thinking apply to any discipline or setting," Jones said.

The challenges faced in any hospital environment are the same, he said. He may not be as familiar with all the services provided but he will be relying on the lead physicians and staff to help formulate his decision-making and strategies.

Jones said he had not really been looking for a job, but when he received a call from a recruiter about Fort Wayne he thought it would be worth looking into.

"It was a good next step for me from a leadership standpoint," Jones said.

St. Joseph is undergoing a major expansion of its surgery department, which should be completed at the end of this year. As its orthopedic services expand, it will continue to focus on its wound service and hyperbaric chamber services. Jones said he will be looking at ways to expand them. One goal is to make sure there are appropriate testing services available, such as radiology and physical therapy.

Right now the hospital is evaluating how it will grow and expand its services to meet the needs of residents in the downtown area. This includes site locations to make it more accessible to patients. The hospital recently relocated a physicians group consisting of family services, pediatrics and gastrointestinal to a campus on Lake Avenue. Currently, St. Joseph has 23 board-certified physicians and 11 mid-level providers.

Jones said his biggest challenge on the job so far has just been getting to know all the providers on staff. He has been spending a lot of the time walking the halls getting to know the faces, doing rounds with physicians and talking to patients. Jones said he is trying to get a better idea of where St. Joseph is as an organization and things it could improve.

The move to Fort Wayne has been good for Jones' personal growth. He and his family – wife Hope, son Kenneth Jr., 7, and son Cooper, 3 – didn't know much about Fort Wayne, but after a few visits here they discovered how family-friendly the city is. Jones said in their short time in Fort Wayne they have already made lifelong friends.

Jones's previous work experience includes working as CEO of Heekin Orthopedic Specialists in Jacksonville, Fla., administrative and leadership positions at hospitals in Florida and Georgia, and, early in his career, ambulatory surgery center administrator at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C.