UnityPoint Health President and CEO Debbie Simon said 2018 will be a big year for its Pekin facility both in facility upgrades and upgrading community needs and relations.

Former UnityPoint Health-Pekin President Bob Haley has retired and is moving back to Texas. Simon will, for the next six to nine months, be at the Pekin facility to become more familiar with UnityPoint Health-Pekin and its needs. She and the board are assessing what the new president’s duties will entail and how best to integrate the president with all UnityPoint Health’s executive team.

 “And I think I will have a good sense of what will work in the future here,” said Simon. “I really wanted an opportunity myself to be more engaged with the staff, the doctors and the community here, because I have worked my life in Peoria but lived in Pekin. I very much care about not only the hospital but the community at large. I felt that I could best then help the new person that would be here have the most knowledge and information to get a good running start.”

Simon said she also wants to “jump start” things at the hospital. As CEO of the entire region, “I simply have an opportunity to move things pretty rapidly just based on the authority and the role I have here. I want to use that to help us position Pekin Hospital to be as successful as possible as quickly as possible.”

The Pekin Hospital Board worked with Simon on the transition plan. 

Simon said there will be a successor president to Haley this year. After short-term CEOs, she wants, “a talent that has had longevity in our region, who understands what we are trying to achieve as UnityPoint. I believe that will bring stability to this organization. I would like someone who clearly will be in the position for several years. One of my key goals is to have a very stable leadership approach here.”


Other goals

The hospital is working to fill specialty needs that the community hasn’t had enough access to such as urology, gastroenterology, as well as strengthen relationships with Midwest Orthopedics, cardiology, and hospitalists, which is a doctor that sees a patient in the hospital. 

Communications and marketing services to the community and surrounding area will be improved so that people around Tazewell County will know what is offered at both the hospital and the new UnityPoint Health-Pekin East physicians center.

The image of the hospital will also be a focus, “and demonstrate that we are bringing the resources, both physicians and education and quality resources that are present at UnityPoint Health currently in Peoria, and we are going to assure that Pekin is providing the care, (and) the standard and has the resources that it should have as part of UnityPoint Health,” said Simon.

“We believe we have an opportunity, and we are asking for this community to think of this as a new day for Pekin community hospital and to realize that by being part of a larger regional system there is the opportunity for new emphasis on patient experience, quality, education of our team, additional services, and we eventually will be making facility improvements and connecting as much as possible what we do at UnityPoint Peoria to what we do at UnityPoint Pekin,” said Simon.

The facility improvements are focusing on Park Court Physician Building at the main hospital, the lobby and the way patients are registered. There could also be upgrades in technology and equipment. The Pekin system will be moved on the same information system platform as the rest of UnityPoint Health, which means that whatever medical provider a patient chooses will have access to the patients’ records. The human resources and finance system will also change to UnityPoint’s platform, said Simon.

UnityPoint is also looking for areas to be involved in, perhaps the Economic Development Council, the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce, sponsorships and charities like the United Way of Pekin.

“I would say the year of 2018 and going forward is really to be the community partner that we set out to be whenever we are in a community,” said Simon.

Follow Sharon Woods Harris at Twitter.com/sharrispekin