Re­turn­ing home

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - BUSINESS - BY PAULA BURKES Busi­ness Writer pburkes@ok­la­

Since Jay John­son took the helm of Dun­can Re­gional Hos­pi­tal in 2010, the fa­cil­ity has seen growth across all ser­vice lines.

DUN­CAN — Since Jay John­son joined Dun­can Re­gional Hos­pi­tal as pres­i­dent and CEO in 2010, net an­nual rev­enues have climbed 24 per­cent to $120 mil­lion.

The 110-bed fa­cil­ity — re­peat­edly rec­og­nized among the coun­try’s top 100 com­mu­nity hos­pi­tals — has grown across all ser­vice lines; added car­di­ol­ogy, full-time psy­chi­a­try and a joint re­place­ment cen­ter; and last year, ac­quired Wau­rika’s Jefferson County Hos­pi­tal. The hos­pi­tals, and their af­fil­i­ated clin­ics, em­ploy 1,050, in­clud­ing 48 physi­cians, physi­cian as­sis­tants and nurse prac­ti­tion­ers.

“Though health ad­min­is­tra­tion is a busi­ness, it re­ally comes down to car­ing for each other and our so­ci­ety,” said John­son, who for­merly worked five years as chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer at Mercy Hos­pi­tal Ard­more and as vice pres­i­dent and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer at Stillwater Med­i­cal Cen­ter for the pre­vi­ous nine.

“I en­joy the good and bad of work­ing with peo­ple, and try­ing to help fam­i­lies,” he said.

John­son, 50, re­cently sat down with The Ok­la­homan at the hos­pi­tal to talk about his life and ca­reer. This is an edited tran­script:

Q: Tell us about your roots. A: I grew up in Law­ton with a sis­ter four years younger. My fa­ther worked as a school ad­min­is­tra­tor and as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent. My mother worked as a sec­re­tary at MacArthur High School. (I at­tended Eisen­hower.) Both are re­tired and still live in Law­ton. My sis­ter is a dean at Cameron Univer­sity.

Q: What were the high­lights of your high school and col­lege years?

A: At Law­ton Ike, I was an of­fi­cer of my class of 444 and won a full schol­ar­ship, in­clud­ing hous­ing, to Cameron Univer­sity. As a Pres­i­den­tial Lead­ers and Univer­sity Scholar, I was en­cour­aged to get in­volved on cam­pus and I did. I was ac­tive in Phi Delta Theta fra­ter­nity and served as pres­i­dent of the stu­dent body. I ran with three of my bud­dies and we all got elected. We learned some good lessons that I carry with me to this day. My friends and I, all young and im­ma­ture, im­me­di­ately set out to change things, in­clud­ing rewrit­ing the stu­dent gov­ern­ment con­sti­tu­tion and by­laws. But our changes had to go to the stu­dent body as whole, who voted down our pro­pos­als. We sub­se­quently worked with those fac­tions who were op­posed and won the pas­sage of a bet­ter re­vi­sion that was far more in­clu­sive.

Q: What led you to pur­sue health ad­min­is­tra­tion?

A: Through high school and col­lege, I de­liv­ered pre­scrip­tions for three phar­ma­cies in town. So, I guess my first job was in the health care in­dus­try. But as pro­fes­sion, I con­sid­ered pur­su­ing law or bank­ing, be­fore my mother sug­gested hos­pi­tal ad­min­is­tra­tion as a pos­si­ble ca­reer for me. She was good friends with the hos­pi­tal ad­min­is­tra­tor in Law­ton, who let me shadow and in­tern un­der him. My first sum­mer, I fell in love with it. I liked the lead­er­ship, strat­egy and pol­icy in­volved, and the di­ver­sity across hos­pi­tal


Q: Why’d you choose Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth for your graduate de­gree?

A: I re­searched the high­est ranked health ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­grams, chose three to ap­ply to, and Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth let me in. My class was capped at 30. I con­sid­ered OU, but my dad told me I needed to get out of Law­ton, and that it wouldn’t hurt for me to get out of Ok­la­homa al­to­gether for a while. From Rich­mond, Vir­ginia, I made sev­eral trips to D.C., loved colo­nial Wil­liams­burg with all its Amer­i­can and Civil War his­tory, and got to tour the battleships at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. My graduate pro­gram was two years long plus a year’s in­tern­ship, which I com­pleted at Park­land Hos­pi­tal in Dal­las. Fol­low­ing grad­u­a­tion, I worked two ad­di­tional years at Park­land

as an ad­min­is­tra­tor over pe­di­atrics. The years I spent out of state taught me I loved Ok­la­homa and didn’t want to leave.

Q: How’d you meet your wife?

A: She had a cousin from Law­ton who set us up. She first sug­gested it when I was a new vice pres­i­dent at Stillwater Med­i­cal Cen­ter. But my wife, Sarah, was still an un­der­grad­u­ate at OSU. I’m seven years older and, in my po­si­tion at the hos­pi­tal, I wasn’t about to date co­eds. Her cousin called me again a year later, af­ter Sarah had grad­u­ated and was study­ing in Ok­la­homa City to be a den­tal hy­gien­ist. We mar­ried two years later.

Q: What led you to take the CEO job at Dun­can Re­gional Hos­pi­tal?

A: Dun­can feels like home to me. Both of my par­ents grew up here, and I used to love com­ing to Dun­can as a boy to visit my grand­par­ents. One set lived across from Kid­dieland Park, where I rode the merry-gor­ound, Tilt-a-Whirl and train. Of course, my par­ents still live in Law­ton, which is 35 miles away. Mean­while, Sarah’s par­ents live only 11 miles away in Mar­low, where she was raised. So, this was a great move for us. My boys now live near all of their grand­par­ents, who are close enough to watch all their games. Be­cause I have roots in this area, my job is a lot more per­sonal. I want to pro­vide great health care to my friends and my fam­ily all around me.


Since Jay John­son took the helm of Dun­can Re­gional Hos­pi­tal in 2010, the fa­cil­ity has seen growth across all ser­vice lines.

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