Jeff Feasel began his career in Ohio where he spent 16 years directing essential business operations for the Medical College of Ohio Hospitals in Toledo and Wood County Hospital in Bowling Green. In April of 2000, he joined Halifax where he filled critical roles including Chief Operating Officer, President/CEO of Patient Business and Financial Services and Vice President of Halifax Community Health System. In January of 2005, he was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Halifax Health.
1 – What implications do you see for your organization resulting from the coronavirus and how are you mitigating the potential risks and challenges?
While COVID–19 brought challenges unlike any we had ever seen before, our position as the community’s healthcare leader and our ability and responsibility to care for those most acutely ill prepared us well. While we had never seen this particular virus before, our physicians and staff deal every day with life-threatening illnesses that require quick and critical thinking and expertise. Halifax Health was truly on the frontline of the pandemic for testing, diagnosing, treating and vaccinating. On the positive side, the coronavirus was an impetus to greater and quicker innovation, communication and perseverance. Some of the things we learned were:
As a healthcare organization, we were fortunate to have physicians and caregivers able to monitor the situation and collaborate as the outbreak started. These are scientists with the skills to analyze data and pandemic responses from around the world, which helped us manage and prepare. Technology and communication enhanced our response and our ability to treat patients at the highest level. These communication lines and relationships are maintained today and will prove useful if we see ourselves in a situation like this again.
Another thing that could have changed things for us was the potential lack of supplies needed to take care of patients. Our operations team did an amazing job and we never got to the point where we were out of supplies. This taught us to follow our procurement plans so everyone could stay safe. They did a great job and we are in a better supply position than ever before.
The final thing I want to bring up is my admiration for our Team Members who worked long, hard hours. After a year and a half of caring for hundreds of COVID-19 patients, the Delta variant challenged our team again and in July our COVID-19 census spiked with 180 patients who were COVID-19 positive. This tested our systems and people even more and I am pleased to say they passed the test with unwavering commitment to their fellow men and women. The community depends on us to always keep our doors open and not turn anyone away, and that is a promise we have made and will keep.
2 – What actions have you taken or will take to return to the growth expectations you had as 2019 ended? When will it be achieved?
The one strategic thing we did was open Halifax Health UF Health Medical Center of Deltona right before everything shut down. Some might say we were crazy to move forward with opening that medical center, but we used every bed possible during the pandemic when the other hospitals in the area were over capacity. At Halifax Health we are focused on providing access and the pandemic proved why this is a good focus. Now we will focus on growing our access points and specialties to serve our neighbors, friends and families.
3 – An organization’s culture flows from the top down. What leadership skills do you find effective in promoting the agency’s mission and vision to employees, clients and customers?
I am so honored to be a businessperson who gets to use my skills to support amazing caregivers who save lives every day. I get up every day looking forward to providing the support Team Members need to provide the highest level of care. In order to do that, I listen and I encourage all of our Team Members to do the same. I spend much of my time visiting our patient floors and talking with our team members to truly understand their needs and challenges. Often just listening uncovers the answers. We always keep the patient at the center of everything we do and no one knows the patient better than those physicians, nurses and other caregivers who interact with them every day.
4 – At EVOLVE we have a shared belief that leaders develop their success skills by overcoming the challenges and adversity they face. Do you believe that hypothesis and if so, what adversity have you faced and overcome that helped put you where you are today?
Challenges and adversities are never going away. Everyone faces them at different times and in different areas of their lives. I try to look at challenges as “opportunities” and deal with them the best I can to learn from the situation. I also try to remember that I don’t have to face all challenges and adversities alone. I have strong, capable people around me whom I trust and rely on for guidance and input. It is ok to ask for help. That’s what a good team is all about.
5 – What closing comments or counsel would you offer to emerging business leaders and entrepreneurs to continue their path to success?
Start with “why” you want to do something and “why” you are here, not “what” or “how” you do things. Knowing what your “why” is makes things more enjoyable and fulfilling. Know why you get up every day and why you do the best you can even when no one is looking. If you do that, no challenge or adversity or pandemic can stop you.