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Carrying the Torch

  • Category: Blog, News, Pulse
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  • Written By: Dwain Hebda
Carrying the Torch

Baxter Regional became one of the most successful small hospitals in the region, if not the country, by adhering to several core strategies. One of those is maintaining a talented and qualified board. Drawn from the community, board members are distinguished not only for their individual area of expertise, but for their love of the community.

All of which made Heather Loftis a natural fit for the prestigious body, which she joined in January, 2022.

“It was the honor of a lifetime for me to be asked to serve on the hospital board,” she said. “Knowing the important role the hospital plays in our community, to be a part of the leadership through the hospital board, I’m honored, grateful and kind of overwhelmed with it.”

Modesty aside, Loftis checked all the boxes necessary for an effective board member. Born and raised in Mountain Home, she’s the second-generation owner of KTLO, the community’s beloved radio station. As a business owner, she understands the challenges of meeting payroll, and having earned a marketing degree from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, she’s highly adept at communicating.

She even has work experience with the hospital foundation to boot, having worked in that office for four years prior to working full time in radio. All of which combine to give her the sense of the history, perspective and urgency needed to meet the hospital’s future challenges.

“I know the struggles the hospital is facing, and I know we’re always going to have an uphill battle,” she said. “The goals are simple: We have to remain independent. We have to remain community focused. I know for everyone within the senior leadership team, that is their utmost priority. In this area, everything revolves around the hospital; it’s ingrained in the very fabric of our community.”

The challenges in healthcare today are many—challenges to which Baxter Regional is no exception. On top of long-standing reimbursement issues, near-constant upgrades to facilities and equipment and nonstop recruitment, leadership and staff also deal with the many new twists COVID-19 continues to bring to healthcare delivery. Loftis praised her fellow board members and the hospital’s leadership for keeping so many things in balance at once across multiple constituencies.

“You always have threats, and you always have opportunities in whatever line of work that you’re in,” she said. “You have to constantly be communicating with everyone involved making sure you’re staying on top of the greatest needs and concerns of every person that puts on the badge of Baxter Regional, listening and paying attention to them, as well as the needs and desires of the community.”

Even as she’s raced to get up to speed with the business of the board, Loftis says she sees opportunities to tell a better, more complete story about everything that’s going on here.

“I don’t know for sure that everyone locally knows all the different opportunities and resources this hospital provides our community,” she said. “If you have different people coming in and out of our community as much as we do during the tourism season or new people who are moving into this area, do they know what a tremendous asset this hospital has been for our community for 50 plus years, and what opportunities lie ahead for us? We should never take for granted that they do.”

Loftis said the common denominator in the big things the little hospital has achieved—Magnet status, new construction, cutting-edge technology and a complex network of clinics—is the can-do spirit of the people behind it. “They’ve kept the community focus at the forefront since the very beginning, and the culture reflects that,” she said. “When you have so many people who have given so much of their life to the hospital who are still there and you balance that out with the new physicians and new leaders who come in, the culture becomes something very powerful. It’s not something people just pay lip service to; it’s something they believe in and put into practice every day.”