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Front Page » September 20, 2012 » Carbon County News » Castleview CEO, a career nurse, knows about the TLC biz
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Castleview CEO, a career nurse, knows about the TLC biz

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It has often been said that the very best leaders in government, business and institutions come from the ranks of those who toil on the front lines. If that is the case, then Mark Holyoak fits right into that mix.

At the heart of it, Holyoak, who has been the CEO at Castleview Hospital for about a year, is a nurse. It's been his life's work.

"I was a nurse in various hospitals for 22 years before getting into administration," he said as he sat at a table in his office late Tuesday afternoon. "I am still an RN and I keep my license active."

That means at times he actually performs some medical duties in the hospital when help is needed. That is not something most hospital administrators would - or even could - do.

Holyoak, who is originally from Cedar City, has served the medical profession in various places, ranging from Las Vegas, Nev. to Omaha, Neb. His experience is varied and extensive. And so is his education.

"I went to school at Southern Utah University and came away with a double major in biology and chemistry," he said. "During that same time I served two year a mission for the LDS church in Georgia."

It was also during that time that he met Patrice Pulsipher, his wife, while they were both working their way through school as desk clerks at a Best Western Motel in Cedar. They got married and she got her teaching degree from SUU and then they moved to Omaha where he went to nursing school at Creighton University.

"You know I was the only one of five siblings that moved away and continues to live away from Cedar City," he said.

He worked in Omaha for some time and then the family moved to Las Vegas where he worked with recovering open heart surgery patients. It was there he got into nursing management. After seven years at Sunrise Hospital it was back to Utah, taking a job at the University of Utah Hospital as Director of Surgical Services. While living in Salt Lake, Holyoak became a Phoenix, getting a masters degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix.

At some point the rural life called back to him and an opportunity to go to Vernal and serve as Chief Nursing Officer at Ashley Regional Hospital was in the offing. He spent 10 years there, raising his young family.

Three years ago Holyoak came to Castleview to help Jeff Manley (then CEO) as he fought his battle with cancer. His position until last year was chief operating officer at the facility.

The job of CEO of a large rural hospital is "hard to explain" said Holyoak. He has had some students from the high school spend time job shadowing him and at least some of them came away saying they would never want to do what he does.

"Really my job consists of a lot of meetings," he said. "But that all ties together with the mission of developing strategies and the provision of health care in the community."

One of the biggest challenges many rural hospitals have is keeping physicians. In many places (Price included) some come for a short time then leave for what seems to be greener pastures. While the overall goal Holyoak spoke of during the interview was to meet the health care needs of the community, he feels a very important part of his job is keeping doctors here.

"Physician recruitment and retention is important to our hospital and community," he stated. "I have been able to help with that, and I think my non-traditional path to this job helps with that."

While many administrators can talk some of the talk that physicians deal with, only someone who has served on the front lines, like a nurse, can really get down to the meaning of what it is to care for patients. That is where feels he has a good edge.

"Turnover of physicians is very hard on a community," Holyoak said. "We have to make every effort to keep them."

Holyoak says the coordination of the needs of the physicians and the hospital is imperative.

"We need to have a place where the employees want to work, where physicians want to practice and where the individuals in the community want to come for their health care."

Holyoak says that he sees the hospital as being an institution that should work toward making the entire community healthier, in many different ways.

"This is not just about about the patients who come here, but the entire community," he said. "The hospital is a taxpayer. We have a large payroll that contributes to the well being of the community. We bring in quality people to work here and we want to make sure that our patrons get value for their money."

As any institution will have, Castleview has its detractors. One of the complaints heard is that the cost of care at the local hospital is so high that it is less expensive for people to go to Utah County for their care. Some also say the care there is better. But Holyoak said that he believes that people need to come back and "kick the tires a little" and find out what the hospital is about today.

"We paid some good money last year to look at data about our competition over the mountain and we spent days going through the list of services we provide to see if our costs were out of line," he explained. "We adjusted our prices where we saw differences. We don't want to be the high priced place, but on the other hand we want to also give value for the care we provide. Value with quality is what we are after."

Holyoak sees the future as being bright for both the hospital and those who use its services. Some of that will come from physical expansion of the facility and some will come from the recruitment of new doctors with different specialties.

"We are bursting at the seems right now," he said. "Our medical office space is full. An urgent care unit is on the horizon. We are going to add more space for surgery. We now have doctors that can do new things such as Dr. Beecher who is a pain control expert, Dr. Jensen who can do spine surgery and Dr. Pressett who is a specialist in weight loss surgery. I would like to see us get a full time neurologist too."

The hospital is also looking at the possibility of basing a helicopter for medical flights right at the facility. It would be available right away if someone needed to be transported to a tertiary facility along the Wasatch Front and it could also be used to do life flights to remote areas in the region where someone needed immediate transport.

Like any rural hospital, there are things that Castleview can't do and things they can. Some disciplines and procedures require unique expertise and expensive equipment. Not every hospital, be it rural or urban can offer every kind of service. Holyoak says for instance that Castleview will probably never do open heart surgery or brain surgery.

"But with other procedures and care if we can do it, we will do it well," he concluded.

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September 20, 2012
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