Incoming KDMC CEO is motivated: ‘I want to tap into the potential’

Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Scott Christensen, chief executive officer of King’s Daughters Medical Center for just the past four weeks now, has been drinking from the fire hose.

“The intensity of it all, all the information, soaking all of it in has been a lot,” he said from the desk in his as-yet-undecorated office. “Meeting as many people as I can has kind of energized me, to see the good people here who want to do some good things.”

Christensen comes to the area from Delta Health System, where he has been CEO since 2014. While there he led the growth of Delta Regional Medical Center — the region’s only Level 3 trauma center — into a health system of four hospitals and multiple outpatient sites.

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Several factors drew Christensen to Brookhaven, but two in particular — KDMC’s reputation and a family-friendly community.

“It became very clear to me the obvious reputation KDMC has across the state,” he said. “It’s well-known as a strong medical center that does some good things. It has some incredible ratings. From a quality standpoint, I wanted to be on a winning team. And there’s a ton of potential in Southwest Mississippi to not only grow but to provide health care access to people who need it, and KDMC can do that.”

As the married father of three — two daughters, ages 9 and 4, and one son, age 5 — Christensen said Brookhaven hit a “sweet spot to raise a family.”

“I grew up in a small town; I’ve seen the major metro areas — this just hits the sweet spot. It’s a pretty solid place to be and a good place to work.”

Another reason Christensen said he wanted to be at KDMC is the attitude of its employees.

“It’s a pretty unique business we’re in. I think the people here really embrace the mission. That’s another reason I want to be here. The culture is proof and testament that this is the place you want to be,” the new CEO said.

Carrying that attitude over into and from the community is a plus.

“The more a county can embrace their local hospital, the better. The economic impact a hospital can have is kind of huge,” Christensen said. “The more we can spread these (good) things, the better, giving back to the community and being a good corporate citizen. It’s more than just being visible. We work, live and go to church together.”

Challenges ahead

As chairman for the Mississippi Hospital Association for the past year, Christensen said his concerns for the path ahead are not specific to the Brookhaven medical facilities.

“I’ve seen all the stuff on Medicaid expansion, COVID, and on the heels of COVID the unknowns. The COVID money is going away, so hospitals sort of have to hunker down and say, ‘How do we learn how to do what we do after COVID?’ We have to get back to a sense of normalcy and still provide that quality level of care,” he said.

“Medicare, Medicaid and insurers are not giving more money to hospitals and doctors. The key is to be as efficient as you can — keeping the quality first and foremost. These are the regional challenges and headwinds for hospitals in general.”

Looking at the programs KDMC offers, Christensen said it’s difficult to focus on just one “good.”

“I don’t want to start naming services, because I’ll leave someone out, but all of these things are key assets. I want to take what we do and expand it to as many places as possible,” he said.

“If we believe we provide the best care, let’s give that to as many people as we can. Can we be a help or a resource to other communities? What do you need? I think I want to tap into the potential for our people here to really go out and do those kinds of things.”