Editor’s note: Matthews commissioners will recognize retiring Novant Health Matthews Medical Center President and Chief Operating Officer Roland Bibeau during the June 22 board meeting. Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly published this story about Bibeau on Oct. 31, 2008, after interviewing him during his third week on the job.
By Kara Lopp
Roland Bibeau has traded nurse’s scrubs for a suit.
The 52-year-old former Air Force corpsman recently was named chief operating officer of Presbyterian Hospital Matthews. A registered nurse for 27 years, he insists it’s not unusual for nurses to climb the ladder to hospital administration positions. His fellow nurses aren’t so sure.
Walking the hospital’s halls during his third week on the job, Bibeau said he enjoys talking with doctors and nurses, often asking questions complete with the correct medical jargon – often to the health care professionals’ shock.
“I think most people as they meet me now say, ‘How can he ask me all those questions?’” he said. “The one thing they do appreciate is that I came up through the system.”
It’s refreshing to know that Bibeau isn’t just another suit and tie, nurse Kathy Haushalter said. A nurse for 20 years, she’s worked at Presbyterian Matthews for five years.
“It’s wonderful because he knows all the aspects,” she said. “He knows where everyone’s coming from and he can relate.”
Bibeau said he’s counting on his wife, Lu – an operating room nurse at the hospital – to keep him in touch with his nursing side.
In the past, Bibeau has helped design surgical centers in North Carolina and Florida, and worked as an intensive care, operating room and emergency department nurse. Early in his career – in the 1970s – he was a nurse at Scott Air Force base near St. Louis, Mo. He has a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s in health administration.
Before accepting his new position, Bibeau spent nine months with Presbyterian Healthcare, planning and building medical plazas in the Ballantyne area, Monroe and Steele Creek. The work coincides with Presbyterian Matthews’s vision, he said.
“We’ve moved care closer to the community,” he said.
Another example of that is the hospital’s three-month-old cardiac catheterization lab, where doctors can provide heart care – such as inserting stents – they previously couldn’t. Before the lab opened, staff could only diagnose problems, then transport patients to the main hospital in Uptown or another larger facility.
“Now, when we have you on the table and we note you have an issue, we can do things to solve that,” he said.
In January, the hospital plans to launch electrophysiology studies that will allow doctors to more easily detect heart defects – again a first for the Matthews campus.
Once a nurse, always a nurse
Taking this nurse out of his scrubs doesn’t mean he’s forgotten what he learned while he was in them, including the importance of a clean and tidy environment.
“It’s a habit,” he said, picking up a dime-size piece of plastic off the hospital floor. He uses hand sanitizer after pushing an elevator button and when entering a new room, also a seemingly nurse-like habit.
And Bibeau can’t get away from the bedside.
“Thanks for choosing our hospital to take care of your expensive needs,” he said, shaking hands with patient Priscilla Pata, a 68-year-old Matthews resident waiting in the outpatient center to have the battery in her pacemaker replaced.
She’s had four heart surgeries, the first in 1969, and is on her third pacemaker.
“Who knows?” Bibeau said, laughing.
“When I’m 65 and retire, I may go back to being a nurse again.”