MINT HILL – Novant Health Mint Hill Medical Center will celebrate its one-year anniversary next month, but Joy Greear has been president and chief operating officer for at least four years prior to the hospital’s opening.
Greear has been part of every step in the hospital’s development, from the design
of the building to the hiring of staff. And she’s certainly played her part in establishing connections between the hospital and the community.
She’s not only president of the hospital, but she’s also president of the Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce. Greear and her team members have pitched in at several charities in town, including Servant’s Heart of Mint Hill, the Mint Hill Historical Society and the Mint Hill Lions Club.
They’ve also held health and wellness classes for residents in the neighboring Cresswinds community, which caters to older adults.
Greear recently took time to answer some questions about the hospital.
When you look back at the past year, what are some things you’re proud of?
I think one of the biggest things we’re most proud of is just the sheer number of patients we’ve been able to see this past year. We’ve been able to keep those patients in their community.
By the time we reach the end of this month – our one-year anniversary is Oct. 1 – we will have seen over 20,000 people in the emergency department.
Where are these people coming from?
We do have a lot of patients from the Mint Hill area into probably more of the Midland and Locust area. Mint Hill and more east to northeast.
Did seeing patients from Midland and Locust surprise you or was it expected?
That’s really what we were hoping for. One of the reasons we wanted to build at this location is because we felt there was an underserved population in that area.
We are getting ready to open a new medical office building in Harrisburg. That’s really an area we want to grow into. We have not had a strong strong presence in Harrisburg, but now that we have the hospital here, we’re
able to grow a clinic there. That’s scheduled to open in late November.
Are there certain medical disciplines that are shaping up to become your bread and butter?
We see a lot of out-patients. We have seen a lot of emergency room patients. We do a lot of imaging studies here.
One service that has really grown this past year has been around pain, particularly middle to older age populations.
Certainly, our cardiology program has grown. We also have an infusion center here on site.
We’ve added a lot of services since we opened. One that I’m really excited about is our urology program. We have a urologist group that started here in February. That group has really started building their practice and doing a lot of their surgical cases here. We added another new urologist that started this week.
We have a very strong breast imaging center. Ladies can come in and have their mammograms done here. We are probably close to about 100 women who have been diagnosed here since we started the program in January. We are very proud to have early diagnosis for these ladies, so they can be treated sooner than later.
Were there growing pains with the opening of the hospital?
Oh yes. When we opened, we were very lean with the numbers we had on board. We have added team members as we have grown in services.
When you open the doors, you don’t really know how busy you’re going to be. Very quickly, we got very busy.
We had to try to recruit and hire people very quickly in those first couple of months after we opened.
So when you do that, you have a lot of training and education in bringing them on board. The fact our volumes were so much higher than we projected, especially the first few months, that created a lot of just very intentional planning around the staffing, making sure we have the right pieces of equipment, the right supplies and the right physicians.
Did opening the hospital at the onset of the flu season present interesting challenges for you?
It did fill up our hospital more quickly. In fairness, we really tried to speed up the opening of the hospital. It was initially intended to open later in the year.
We wanted to be open for two reasons. We wanted to be open for October because of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We really felt like it was important for the ladies in our community to know that we were here and to really get them in and utilizing the services and understanding what kind of services we have here.
We knew that flu season was coming. If there was any way we could help with the capacity of the other hospitals in the Charlotte market, we’re a new facility that could take some of the patients. We did. We got really busy. By the middle of October last year, we had a lot of our beds full.
Do you have in goal for the hospital that you’d like to discuss publicly?
One thing I’m really excited about is a program called Enhanced Recovery After Surgery. It is a fast-track program, if you will, for those people that need to have surgery but they don’t want to take a lot of drugs before and after. They want to have a short recovery period. We have people seeking us out if we have this program, so we’re e excited to be able to add that in October.
The other thing we’re adding soon is we’re getting a robot that will go into our surgery area. We’re very excited about that. We have doctors standing in line wanting to use the robot.
You were named president and chief operating officer of the hospital long before it opened. Has it become everything you thought it would be?
It has and more. I feel very blessed every day that I had the opportunity, first of all,
to be selected and part of the original design team to go through all the construction, hire
all the team members and then actually open the doors and operate it. That doesn’t happen very often in a health care administrator’s career. I consider that a privilege, and I take that very seriously.
I’m very invested not only in this building but also in this community. Especially over the last year when I’ve cried with families or I’ve been here when they’ve had new babies or they are worried about their loved ones.
To be able to have those conversations with family members and understand that this hospital means so much to this community, that makes me incredibly proud. We get to provide that service, and they get to stay
close to home.