Philoron (Phil) Wright

Modern Healthcare - - SPECIAL FEATURE - —Jes­sica Zig­mond

Grow­ing up in Gainesville, Fla., sports taught Phil Wright the es­sen­tial skills he cred­its with his suc­cess as a hospi­tal ad­min­is­tra­tor: tenac­ity, prac­tice—and es­pe­cially block­ing and tack­ling. Al­though the 36-year-old CEO of Southamp­ton Memo­rial Hospi­tal went to Florida A&M Univer­sity on a tennis schol­ar­ship, he sees the block­ing and tack­ling he learned in football as the most rel­e­vant to what he’s learned as a hospi­tal ex­ec­u­tive. On the field and in the hospi­tal, that means fo­cus­ing on the ba­sics in or­der to achieve suc­cess. And as a hospi­tal leader, Wright sees those ba­sics as do­ing no harm and treat­ing pa­tients well.

He also says his clin­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence has been a huge as­set in his cur­rent role over­see­ing a hospi­tal that serves a pa­tient pop­u­la­tion of about 25,000 in Southamp­ton and Isle of Wight coun­ties. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing with a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in car­diopul­monary sci­ence, Wright spent more than two years as a reg­is­tered res­pi­ra­tory ther­a­pist at the Med­i­cal Cen­ter of Cen­tral Ge­or­gia in Macon.

“There’s not a lot peo­ple can shoot past me that I haven’t seen,” says Wright, who has led Southamp­ton Memo­rial Hospi­tal since Novem­ber 2010. “It’s not that some­one with a busi­ness or fi­nan­cial back­ground couldn’t learn it, but when a res­pi­ra­tory man­ager or nurse man­ager talks about acu­ity, I can re­late.” Adding to his clin­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence, Wright later earned a mas­ter’s de­gree in health ad­min­is­tra­tion from the Med­i­cal Univer­sity of South Carolina in Charleston. He de­scribes his lead­er­ship style as “adap­tive,” which he thinks is cru­cial in the al­ways-chang­ing field of health­care.

“If you’re not able to change and mod­ify your strate­gies to keep up with the change, you’ll be in trou­ble,” Wright says, adding that he prefers to get his hands dirty “out in the trenches.”

Michelle Lo­gan-Owens is vice pres­i­dent of clin­i­cal an­cil­lary ser­vices at Sumter, S.C.-based Tuomey Health­care Sys­tem, who met Wright when he came to the sys­tem as an ad­min­is­tra­tive res­i­dent in 2004. “At first he comes across as very re­served, but he’s very an­a­lyt­i­cal in this think­ing,” Lo­gan-Owens says. “He takes time to be thought­ful and de­lib­er­ate in his con­sid­er­a­tions,” she says, later de­scrib­ing Wright as dis­ci­plined, goal-driven and team-ori­ented.

But her great­est mem­ory of Wright—a hus­band and fa­ther of two young sons—is a per­sonal one. In May 2004, Wright knew that Lo­gan-Owens was plan­ning to host her daugh­ter’s first birthday party while her hus­band was de­ployed in Iraq. As Lo­ganOwens re­mem­bers, Wright helped set up tables and tents, took pho­to­graphs, and shot and up­loaded video so her hus­band—who had ear­lier missed his daugh­ter’s first steps and words—could see the party she hosted for about 60 guests at their home.

“That’s who he is,” Lo­gan-Owens says of Wright. “If some­body had a prob­lem or strug­gle, he would help in any way he could.”

“If you’re not able to change and mod­ify your strate­gies to keep up with change, you’ll be in trou­ble.”

36, CEO, Southamp­ton Memo­rial Hospi­tal, Franklin, Va.

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