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Becker's Speaker Series: 4 questions with Schneider Regional Medical Center CEO Dr. Bernard Wheatley

March 22, 2017

Since April 2013, Bernard Wheatley has served as CEO of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands-based Schneider Regional Medical Center.

As CEO, he oversees Schneider Regional Medical Center's three facilities: The Roy Lester Schneider Hospital, Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute and the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center. Previously, Dr. Wheatley was vice president of operations at Athens (Ga.) Regional Medical Center. He earned a doctor of business administration from Prescott Valley, Ariz.-based Northcentral University.

On Tuesday, April 18, Dr. Wheatley will speak on a keynote panel at the Becker's Hospital Review 8th Annual Meeting. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place April 17 through April 20 in Chicago.

To learn more about the conference and Dr. Wheatley's session, click here.

Question: What is unique about Schneider Regional Medical Center's market?
Bernard Wheatley: Schneider Regional is the only hospital serving St. Thomas and St. John in the U. S. Virgin Islands District.

Q: How do you revitalize yourself?
BW:
I attend conferences such as those hosted by Becker's Hospital Review, the American College of Healthcare Executives, the American Hospital Association and the National Association of Health Service Executives to stay abreast of the key themes driving today's healthcare decisions.

Q: The panel you're speaking on at our April conference is called "Thriving as a Small to Mid-Sized Hospital." What are a few ways hospitals classified as such can continue to prosper?
BW: In light of decreasing patient volumes, community hospitals must become an engine for health and economic growth for the community. Their reputation must be enhanced.

Affiliation rather than a merger with larger prestigious institutions is a viable option to provide benefits of sharing resources.

To better understand the cost of care, community hospitals need a cost accounting system to determine whether a service line is profitable or whether one physician is higher-cost than another.

Community hospitals must improve billing practices to increase collections. In essence: flawless revenue cycle initiatives.

Q: Which other CEOs do you look up to and why?
BW: Dr. Michael Ugwueke is a friend and colleague, and I am impressed to see the rise of his career. Eugene Woods is also a friend and colleague, and I am inspired by his career progress. Lloyd Dean presents an awesome career path worthy of emulation. David Feinberg, MD, is an inspirational leader and I have emulated his executive rounding as part of my tenure. Bernard Tyson has demonstrated huge accomplishments. He continues to shed light in dark places so other CEOs like myself can follow.

Harvey Holzberg (RWJUH) and Jack Drew (Athens Regional Health System) were very instrumental in giving me opportunities through their leadership and mentoring to be successful.