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Onward and Upward: Hospital Board Chairman Randy Hopper

Onward and Upward: Hospital Board Chairman Randy Hopper

Many people in Mountain Home and the vicinity look to Baxter Regional with tremendous feelings of civic pride. Board Chairman Randy Hopper, who lives in nearby Flippin, is one of them.
“Baxter Regional is impressive, to say the very least,” he said. “The senior leadership team is dedicated, they’re capable, they think strategically. I’m very impressed with them in every discipline.

“But it’s much deeper than that. There’s a camaraderie or a spirit here that really is hard to put your finger on.”

Hopper, who has been a member of the board for three years, said he agreed to serve in the hopes that he could contribute something of value to the organization. After seeing the level of excellence the hospital delivers every day, he was inspired all the more to be a part of the organization’s success.

“When I was asked to join the board, I thought about it very carefully. I kept coming back to the fact that I wanted to make a contribution back to the community,” he said. “The fact is, I had no idea what that meant when I came onto the board. Every day I have just been so impressed.”

One vivid example of the operational excellence at work here, Hopper said, is how the health system kept moving forward with goals and initiatives even as the hospital waged war on the coronavirus. Where some hospitals ground to a halt, Baxter Regional kept reaching onward and upward.

“There have been lots of accomplishments,” he said. “We opened a new outpatient surgery center. There was the long drive to get to Magnet designation, and that happened last year. The thing I’ve been very impressed with is the new heart procedure, the TAVR procedure. That went into place this past year. We’ve been named a best place to work, again, and we just broke ground on a new cancer center.

“There were some things that probably had to be moved to the side laterally, but I don’t think anything ever got off the dashboard completely. As a board, we kept coming back and saying, ‘We really need to do these things because of our purpose. This is an obligation and responsibility we need to live up to.’”

The laundry list of accomplishments wasn’t easy to achieve, of course, and neither are the challenges facing the organization going forward. Foremost among them, Hopper said, is the continuing labor shortage.

“We’re all competing for the same population,” he said. “In private business, it’s a problem for all of us to attract the right talent. I think it really gets doubled down when you go into healthcare because there’s so much training and so many specialties. It’s really hard to stay in front of that.

“Our hospital and our management group are working very hard to stay in front of not only wages, but benefits and atmosphere, developing a place to work that is a desirable place to work. That’s really what it’s about. There is serious burnout in healthcare nationally, and I know that our people have worked really, really hard. I really think we’ve weathered some things better than the national average because of how we treat our people in a very positive, compassionate manner.”

Challenges and all, Hopper remains upbeat about the future of Baxter Regional, from the opening of the cancer center later this year to the ongoing challenge of providing world-class care with a small-town attitude.

“I feel good about where we’re at,” he said. “I believe our commitment to remaining independent results in offering more comprehensive community-focused care than anyone else. In a word, it’s all about compassion, and I think we have that in abundance here. Yes, there’s a lot of things we’re going to have to overcome, but that’s just what our group does. When I look to the future, I’m optimistic.”