Retiring hospital executive is proud of leading affiliation process

The Yankee from upstate New York (Mechanicville) came South in 2004. Now that’s he’s retiring, he’s staying.
“Southern hospitality really exists,” Rich D’Alberto said last week. “My wife and I have never lived anywhere where we were so welcomed and treated so well.”
D’Alberto moved to Laurens County from Pennsylvania to become CEO of the Laurens County Hospital.
At that time, he worked for the management firm paid by the Laurens County Health Care System to run the hospital.
When the board made the decision to drop the management company and hires its own CEO and other key personnel, D’Alberto continued as the hospital’s top executive.
He worked in Greenville for a year to avoid a non-compete clause in the contract and, during that time, became familiar with the operations of the Greenville Health System.
In 2012, D’Alberto guided the LCHCS board through a process of investigating an affiliation with a larger health care system. In July, 2013, Laurens County Hospital became affiliated with GHS as Laurens County Memorial Hospital.
D’Alberto, who is retiring Dec. 23, has served as campus president since then.
He considers the affiliation is his greatest accomplishment as CEO.
“I believe strongly that led to our continued survival and now we’re thriving,” he said.
He said when the decision was made to affiliate with GHS, there was no guarantees that he would be retained to lead the new endeavor. “I just wanted to do what’s best for the community,” D’Alberto said.
Dr. Spence Taylor, the president of the giant GHS system, told the local board last week the system has been divided into four regions. LCMH is in the southern region.
“I think (the regional reorganization) will assure the medical needs of the community are met more efficiently and with higher quality,” D’Alberto said.
As in politics, all healthcare is local, he said. “If the reorganization doesn’t show the commitment (by GHS) to this community, I don’t know what will. The future is bright.”
Another accomplishment the retiring administrator is proud of is the construction (in 2012) of the Women’s Center and a new emergency department at LCMH, along with the development of outpatient floor space in the original building’s third floor.
The third thing D’Alberto is proud of is “we built an environment that totally focused on service to the patient and quality of care. We did that by recruiting solid medical staff and clinical staff.”
He leaves with no regrets.
“I really believe I’m leaving this place better than I found it,” D’Alberto said. “I just want to be remembered for what we accomplished.”
He has high praise for the members of the local board throughout the years.
“I’ve never worked for boards like here,” he said. “There was nothing on their minds except what was best for the community. There were no hidden agendas and no private agendas.”
D’Alberto said he is excited about the future of health care and predicts there will be only two or three healthcare systems in the state in 10 years.
“The hospital won’t be the main focus (in the future). Only the sickest of the sick will be in the hospital,” he said.
The focus will be on outpatient care with the patient working in partnership with health care providers.
“We will need to get more patient-centered and provide more customer service,” D’Alberto said.
He turned 67 in October, the age he had always planned to retire. He and his wife Deborah, a retired nurse, are building a house in Alpharetta, Ga., where their daughter, a forensic accountant, lives with her two sons.
Their oldest son is an attorney and lives in Columbia with his three children. The younger son is single and is an artist in Bryson City, N.C.
In retirement, D’Alberto plans to play golf, travel and spent time with his grandchildren.
He’s also writing a book about his 45-year career in health care. The working title is OMG.

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