The arrival of HCA’s StoneSprings Hospital in Dulles South was a game-changer for the hospital landscape in Loudoun County five years ago, and its new CEO thinks the next five could be just as impactful.
Nathan Vooys started his post as StoneSprings’ new CEO Nov. 1. He had already been a part of the HCA team for a number of years, most recently serving as CEO at HCA’s Terre Haute Regional Hospital in Indiana, and previous stops in executive or administrative roles in Florida and Georgia.
Vooys said the attraction to running the show at the 124-bed hospital, which celebrated its five-year anniversary Dec. 7, came down to the local market.
“There is so much opportunity in this market, in this area and I think StoneSprings is in a geographically good position, strategically positioned. That’s a lot of fun for me as a hospital administrator, to grow service lines, invest in new equipment. That’s what gets me excited to get up and go to work every day; to be in a thriving, growing community and deliver [medical services] to the area,” he said.
Vooys is keenly aware that StoneSprings’ southern Loudoun location was viewed as “the next frontier” for medical services in the growing county, and said providers at the hospital have expressed a desire to have a physical, onsite presence on the hospital campus to be able to serve patients closer to where they live.
In his first few weeks at his new job, Vooys has been making the rounds throughout the hospital and begun outreach to elected representatives, business leaders, and community organizations.
“I really want to understand what the community perception of our facility is, what our opportunities are, things we need to focus on, what to fix. It’s been a listening tour on steroids,” he said. “It’s critical I listen first before I make any material changes to the hospital.”
One already planned change that has Vooys excited is the October 2021 opening of a 17-bed adult behavioral health unit, a need not only for the local community, but to help fill a critical statewide shortage of mental health beds. Vooys points to his previous post in Indiana, in a county about a quarter of the size of Loudoun which was home to two hospitals.
“We had a 19-bed unit that was 100% full about 98% of the time,” he said. “I won’t be surprised if we have a very full unit,” at StoneSprings.
He expects the StoneSprings unit to be just as busy, and said down the road HCA could look at an expansion to the unit, and even offer focused areas specializing in mental health treatment for women, children or the elderly.
The hospital also will start construction on a joint venture surgery center in January, with a focus on orthopedics and spine surgery. Two bariatric surgeons are opening a practice at StoneSprings at the start of the New Year, and a recently recruited gastroenterologist will bring some complex gastrointestinal and treatment programs to the center, Vooys said. HCA also continues to invest in its robotics program, between both its StoneSprings and Reston hospitals.
“The healthcare consumers in this part of the country they’re quite astute, they know how to research and find information. We know that people are interested in newer technologies and we want to develop those platforms,” he said.
Vooys is particularly proud of the growth of StoneSprings OBGYN program and labor and delivery unit.
“Just in the last 60 days we have brought back our pediatrician in house 24/7 through our partnership with Children’s National Hospital. They’re in our building 24/7, taking care of well newborns and NICU babies. [We also] now have an in-house OBGYN that supports our community OBGYNs. We feel like those are really important because we’re invested in having specialists, providers literally in the building to be a resource for patients and medical staff members around the clock. We’ve already seen blockbuster demand and growth from OBGYNs who want to bring their patients here because they know we have those resources. It’s going to be transformational for our labor and delivery and women’s services programs,” Vooys said.
Vooys said HCA has navigated the COVID-19 pandemic well, and said that has made his transition all the more seamless.
“I’ve probably never been more thankful to be part of a more well-run, organized system like HCA as I have been in this pandemic. That’s where the company’s resources, clout have really shined. There’s a lot of very smart people doing behind the scenes work to make sure we have the right processes in place, access to testing, PPE for staff. COVID has been a very difficult thing to deal with as a hospital system and health care community, but I’m very pleased with our response. We are well prepared from a PPE perspective, managing and taking care of patients who don’t have COVID,” as well as those that do, he said. “We’ve sort of figured this out and shown through nine months we can do both and do both really well and provide a safe environment for our patients.”
Vooys is optimistic about the growth of telemedicine, a positive consequence fast tracked during the pandemic. That will allow StoneSprings to tap into resources at its Reston sister hospital without having to bring specialists in, or send patients on a long drive. Another trend he is noticing is a shift to more outpatient, as opposed to in-patient, procedures.
“Patients recover faster if they’re at home, and it’s less load on the health care system to have patients in and out more quickly, especially when we’re trying to deal with a surge in COVID volumes. It’s been a win-win both clinically, efficiency wise and capacity wise,” he said.
Despite beginning his new gig in a wild year for medicine and hospital systems, Vooys’ excitement is palpable.
“I feel like this place is a loaded spring,” he said. “There’s just a ton of interest and so many things in flight. I think the next five years are going to look totally different—bigger, more services offered, more comprehensive services—and I’m just thrilled and excited to be a part of this organization at this period in time. I’m beyond excited to get to work and see what the next five years have to offer.”