Medical Center of South Arkansas CEO Overseeing Destination Healthcare Efforts
By BECKY GILLETTE
El Dorado hospital adding new close-to-home services
EL DORADO - "People don't want to travel long distances for healthcare," said Medical Center of South Arkansas (MCSA) CEO, Scott M. Street, who took his present position in October 2017. "We want those patients in south Arkansas to be able to get specialty care near home. Our vision is to provide a destination for healthcare services by creating alliances, opening new services and expanding existing services."
In an era of hospital closures across the country, especially in smaller cities, Street said while El Dorado is a midsize town, it has a big heart for the future. City leaders are actively supporting growth in entertainment, jobs, education, and healthcare.
"These are the essential elements for a quality lifestyle," he said. "MCSA is proving successful in growing its footprint in Union County. We have created alliances with the Arkansas Heart Hospital, Arkansas Children's Hospital, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Urology and the Landmark Cancer Center to bring certain services back to El Dorado."
Street, with the support of the MCSA Board of Trustees and Leadership, worked to start crafting a vision for destination healthcare soon after arriving at MCSA.
"We went into our market, talked to stakeholders in the community, and asked what they want from us as healthcare providers," Street said. "We got a lot of input, and responded by working to bring services here that the region hasn't had in the past, like behavioral health - psychiatric services - and a full, comprehensive cancer center. We are also working to bring back the Arkansas Health Education Center (AHEC) 12-physician residency program."
The program is currently under design, and a clinic facility is planned to house the program. The first class is expected to start in the fall of 2022.
Street said one of the advantages of the residency program is that if the hospital system builds a rapport with residents for three years, they are more likely to want to stay when their residency is up. That helps with the vital need for adequate numbers of physicians to serve the region.
"If someone has ties in the region, or within Arkansas, that is always helpful," he said. "If you can recruit locally, that is a huge hurdle you are able to get over. We start recruiting in high school and college looking not just for quality, but stability. If a physician is here for a couple of years, builds rapport with patients and families, and then leaves, it is unfortunate for those who live here. We are aggressively recruiting for subspecialists. We have eight active searches right now for subspecialists."
As is the trend in healthcare today, MCSA is finding success in recruiting specialists by jointly recruiting with organizations like Arkansas Heart Hospital. An interventional cardiologist, for example, could live in El Dorado and be employed jointly by MCSA and Arkansas Heart Hospital, allowing the physician to be part of a group based in Little Rock with about 30 heart specialists. They currently have a joint employment arrangement in Arkansas Heart Hospital and are planning such an alliance with Arkansas Urology, as well.
"That model is part of the plan," Street said. "We think that is key to some of the subspecialties we need here. This will work for us currently, and as we grow our service lines down the road. For other staff needs such as nurses, we work with South Arkansas University, South Arkansas Community College and other allied programs. South Arkansas University has a strong nursing program and other allied programs. They do an impressive job training those we recruit and hire, and who are hired by other healthcare providers throughout the region."
MCSA, which has 166 beds, is currently in the process of modernizing the second, third and fourth-floor rooms in its patient tower. The hospital has added a new café and bistro, remodeled the entrance lobby, and built a conference center. Through a partnership, they are adding a three-level medical office building, new medical service lines, and physician specialties.
"These are fairly short-term goals," Street said. "We are serving all of South Arkansas, not just Union County, which we are excited about. We are always challenging ourselves. We strive to create a better healthcare experience for our patients. With our goal to bring extensive healthcare service lines to the citizens of south Arkansas, they will no longer have to make a long drive for most of their medical care."
In addition to the main hospital, MCSA has an imaging center, and multiple primary and specialty clinics throughout El Dorado.
Street, who has been in healthcare administration for 29 years, grew up in Cherokee Village in North Arkansas. His interest in a healthcare career surfaced in an eight grade English class. When the students were asked what they wanted to become, most classmates wanted to be astronauts and firemen. Street stood up and said he wanted to be a hospital administrator. His uncle, Steve Morris, CEO of a large hospital system, and father, Gene Street, a businessman, had a big influence on his career choice.
Street obtained a bachelor's in business administration from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia before earning a master's degree in healthcare administration from the University of Missouri, Columbia, MO. His first job after graduation was working for Baptist Health in Little Rock.
"Baptist invited me to do a residency and I spent the first ten years of my career with them," Street said. "Baptist Health is a good organization and I valued my time with them."
Prior to El Dorado, Street worked in Oklahoma and Texas. When the opportunity was presented to lead MCSA, the Streets were excited about the opportunity to return to Arkansas.
"We had two sons at Ouachita Baptist University, which is the college my wife, Christine, and I graduated from," Street said. "So, we wanted to get back to Arkansas. We thought this was a great location. Community Health Systems, the operator of the hospital, was looking for a leader with a passion for this area. And I can't overemphasize the location is great for my wife and our four children."
Their son Jacob is a freshman and a member of the basketball team at Ouachita, and their son Zach, recently graduated from there. An older son, Nathan, and his wife, Kasey, live in Little Rock, and daughter Samantha and her husband, Caleb Akers, live in Rogers.
Street describes his leadership style as service oriented and vision driven.
"I was originally drawn into healthcare and am still in healthcare today because of the opportunity and privilege to serve," Street said. "We have an opportunity to do that in this day and time in healthcare. Our goal is to always provide quality care and create a positive patient experience."
The Streets say their greatest passion is raising their children and make it a top priority to spend time with them. They are also both very involved with their church and their alma mater, where Street is on the Ouachita Baptist University Board of Directors. Street played football in college, and they also participate in fundraisers for Ouachita Athletics.