Health Care Administrator of the Year Finalist: Leslie 'Bubba' Arnold, CHI St. Vincent Morrilton


Asked what led him into working in health care administration, Leslie “Bubba” Arnold, president of CHI St. Vincent Morrilton, credited an unexpected source of inspiration.

“I love to fix things; Dad was a mechanic so I guess I got that from him,” he said. “I like to work for win-win solutions to problems.

“As president, I’m responsible for all hospital operations. My duties are all associated with making St. Vincent Morrilton a great place to work, a great place for physicians to practice and a great place for patients to receive care.”

Arnold couldn’t have picked a more apt field in which to indulge his mechanic mentality, given both the radical change that has come to health care of the past decade and the state of the hospital he took over in 2012, which was floundering in patient and physician satisfaction scores.

Four years later, the picture is very different. In the emergency department alone, patient satisfaction scores have jumped from the 20th percentile before Arnold became president to better than the 90th percentile the last two quarters. Overall physician satisfaction is also up 17 percent year over year, and the number of physicians who would recommend the hospital is up double digits over 2015.

Arnold’s other improvements have bumped safety and quality ratings correspondingly. The hospital exceeded its safety goals by 49 percent over the last reporting quarter and topped core measures by 22 percent.

En route to meeting and exceeding these goals, Arnold has maintained an open-door policy with staff, physicians, patients and their families to gain feedback and nurture dialogue as a means to seek out ways to improve care without gutting the budget.

“Money is always very tight in health care so we struggle like other hospitals to improve technology for the services we provide in the community,” he said. “I am humbled to be recognized, but the honor really goes to our St. Vincent Morrilton team and our health care community in Morrilton.”

By the time he took the president’s job, Arnold had racked up more than 30 years of progressively responsible experience at CHI St. Vincent. He joined the hospital in 1981 as a staff pharmacist and has served as vice president of operations, administrative director of operations and director of pharmacy services.

Arnold holds a master’s degree in health services management from Webster University and a doctorate of pharmacy from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. At UAMS he received the Faculty Gold Key denoting having graduated at the top of his class.

Highlights
By the time he took over as hospital president in 2012, Leslie Arnold had racked up more than 30 years of progressively responsible experience at CHI St. Vincent. Under his leadership, emergency department patient satisfaction scores jumped from the 20th percentile to better than the 90th percentile in 2016. Overall physician satisfaction is up 17 percent and the number of physicians who would recommend the hospital is up double digits over 2015. The hospital also exceeded its safety goals by 49 percent over the last reporting quarter and topped core measures by 22 percent.

Return to Arkansas Business Health Care Heroes 2016.