October 08, 2019

Meet John Robertson, Regional Hospital Administrator for West Central Georgia Regional Hospital in Columbus

John Robertson joined our team in July 2007 as the Hospital Administrator of West Central Georgia Regional Hospital (WCGRH) when we were a division of the Georgia Department of Human Resources.  Prior to joining us, John had more than 20 years of executive level management experience in the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors of the health care industry, primarily in the state of Alabama.  We were very fortunate to attract an individual of John’s caliber as evidenced by the success of West Central Georgia Regional Hospital.  John’s supervisor, Emile Risby, M.D., stated,

There is no other Regional Hospital Administrator in our hospital system who is more beloved by his staff, than John Robertson.  Not just his direct reports, but virtually every employee at WCGRH and most of the patients speak highly of John’s character.  When he makes rounds around the hospital, patients and staff know who he is, and more impressively, he knows who most of them are.  We are blessed to have John Robertson on our team.

Recently John took time from his busy calendar to speak with David Sofferin about how he manages his time at work and what his greatest talent is away from work. 

What is your SDI Motivational Value System and how do you use SDI at West Central Georgia Regional Hospital? 

I am BLUE. SDI has made me aware of the things that are important to me and how those things influence my behavior. SDI has also done the same with my understanding of what’s important to others and why they respond the way they do during times of disagreement. We conduct many meetings each day in our hospital and knowing each other’s MVS and conflict sequence has reduced the emotional barriers to conducting effective meetings.  

What is the first thing you do in the morning when you wake up?

Most often, I say good morning to my wife. After showering and dressing, I eat breakfast with my wife. Then I begin the hour+ drive to work. I wish I was the romantic Dr. Li is; unfortunately, if I were to cook breakfast, there’d be two very hungry people going to work every morning from my house.

What is the first thing you do when you arrive at work? 

After saluting the security personnel at the entrance, and after I have greeted those between the parking lot and my office, I head straight to the computer to check my mail and calendar. I open the 24-hour report which gives me an up to date snapshot of what occurred at the hospital for the 24 hours.

How often do you round and meet with your staff?

Meeting with the staff and individuals has always been a favorite daily function of mine. Unfortunately, due to my recent illness, I have been quarantined to my office a lot and these daily rounds were, for the most part, indefinitely delayed. However, on my birthday last January, while being restricted to my office, I looked out my window and saw 25-30 individuals and 50-60 employees gathered in a big circle on the lawn. They proceeded to sing and dance in celebration of my birthday. Obviously, it made me feel good to know that people missed seeing me and found a way to overcome a barrier. Lately, my treatment has allowed me to get out on campus more.

How much time do you spend with your direct reports?

Some might say too much! I meet with most of the leaders, including my direct reports, every weekday morning to discuss the previously mentioned 24-hour report. We also review all incident reports from the previous day, and we look at areas on the campus that may be disrupted that day due to construction, repairs, etc. My direct reports and I have other formal monthly meetings. I see my direct reports mostly on an informal basis in their offices or mine on an as needed basis, which for some, is often.

What is the most challenging part of your day?

It could be any time of the day. As much as we try to make our days predictable, they can be anything but that due to the nature of our business. Probably the most challenging moment in any day would be learning of a discharge placement falling through and knowing that a needed hospital bed remains unavailable to our referring stakeholders.

What do you consider your greatest talent or skill outside of work?

I have very talented colleagues from the other hospitals, and it appears I don’t measure up too well. I used to be an “okay” golfer but chronic back issues, including surgery, sort of pushed the golf clubs into the closet. Several years ago, while still wanting to play golf, I was encouraged by the boss of my house to do so something with our yard. So, I traded clubs for shovels and began landscaping. I guess I did okay as my bride tells me nearly every weekend while standing in the backyard, “this is my little slice of heaven and I just love it back here.”

What are some of the key goals you hope to accomplish in Fiscal Year 2020 at West Central Georgia Regional Hospital?

I am pushing very hard to see major improvements in our Recovery Planning and intervention programs. I truly believe if we plan properly (i.e. person centered) and order the appropriate interventions (i.e. addressing the objectives), then the hospital will be safe, discharges will be successful, and the taxpayers will have a facility of great value.

What do you consider your greatest achievement so far at West Central Georgia Regional Hospital?

Assembling a top-shelf leadership team. It is a luxury to have so many managers with so many years of service, that care so deeply about our individuals and that care so much for each other. This was never more obvious than when I was away for weeks receiving treatment.

If you had an opportunity to pass along a “word of advice” to another Regional Hospital Administrator what would you tell her/him?

I have a couple of items. First, I’ll agree with Dr. Li. The future of our business is in the community. Secondly, and this really applies to all DBHDD employees, don’t ever forget that the leaders of our agency truly care about you as an employee and, more importantly, they care about you as a person. I know this for a fact.

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