by Whitlow, Roberts, Houston & Straub, PLLC
PADUCAH, Ky. – James “Jim” Rickard began his association with Baptist Health at birth.
Born in Western Kentucky at what’s now Baptist Health Madisonville, the banker and businessman joined the Baptist Health Corbin board in the early 1990s. He took a breather from board membership until his work took him to Southern Indiana as president and CEO of Community Bank Shares of Indiana in New Albany, Ind. Rickard was then asked to join the system board, rising to chairman.
Rickard said it was an “interesting” experience to lead the board in 2012 when the former Trover Clinic in Madisonville joined the Baptist Health fold, along with the former Pattie A. Clay Medical Center (now Baptist Health Richmond).
As 2015 began, Rickard wound up his term as chairman, handing the reins over to Paducah attorney Christion “Chris” Hutson.
“Jim provided outstanding leadership during a period of significant transition at Baptist Health,” said Hutson, a partner in the Paducah law firm of Whitlow, Roberts, Houston & Straub, and previously the board’s vice chairman. “He provided a steady and confident hand for the board as we welcomed Steve Hanson as CEO in March 2013. We owe Jim a debt of gratitude for his consistent leadership and guidance.”
Rickard’s two years as chairman were a time of dramatic growth and change for Baptist Health. The board saw the tremendous challenges ahead, he said. “We can’t continue to operate as we have for the last several decades when healthcare is changing as rapidly as it is.”
Major accomplishments under Rickard’s direction included consolidation of all physician groups into the Baptist Health Medical Group, and selection of a new electronic health record vendor, Epic. Rickard credits the system’s “strong leadership and staff” with making the gains. “The role of the board is to facilitate that culture,” he said.
While the board has overseen great change, some Baptist Health traditions must be preserved, Rickard added. “We must continue to emphasize the importance of quality care and the caring culture of the entire system.” Hutson said he plans to continue that tradition during his term as chairman.
“We will continue to emphasize the highest standards of care for all who receive treatment through Baptist Health,” Hutson said. “Consistent focus will be placed on the quality of care provided each patient, and the safety of the patient.”
Many challenges await. “We will continue to understand and implement population health to transform delivery of healthcare, all in the fulfillment of the mission and vision of Baptist Health,” Hutson said. “The board will work to provide direction and leadership for the Baptist 2nd Century Strategic Plan. We will continue to place considerable emphasis on Epic and on Bluegrass Health, and welcome Baptist Health Medical Group.”
To prepare for those challenges, the board’s makeup and structure were closely examined to achieve the right mix of skills and experience. To that end, two physicians were added and given four-year terms: Ramsey N. Nassar, MD, of Nephrology Associates of Kentuckiana, PSC, in Louisville; and Randal W. Owen, MD, president/managing partner for Lexington OB-GYN Associates.
“We believe it’s very important to include the perspective of practicing physicians on the Baptist Health board of directors,” said CEO Steve Hanson. “Physicians help ensure that decisions we make have a sound basis in real-life medicine.”