HEALTHCARE LEADER: David Crislip’s Move Pays Dividends for Methodist Fayette Hospital
Some people leave their jobs for greener pastures. David Crislip left work in Memphis for tranquil lakes, peaceful streams and the fish that live in them.
An avid hunter and fisherman, Crislip departed the big city for a more rural setting in October of 1998. Over the protests of his wife, he joined the Methodist Healthcare family as an associate director at its facility in Fayette County. The move turned out well for all concerned . . . except the fish.
“My wife was against it at first,” said Crislip, who relocated his family to Piperton, Tennessee, just east of Collierville.
Of course, it wasn’t just for the fish. The position at Methodist Fayette Hospital in Somerville, Tennessee, had great appeal.
“I knew from the minute I took the job I wanted to run the hospital,” he said. “I believed in it and that it could change for the better.”
Crislip’s desire to be an instrument of change has guided many of his professional pursuits. Through his determination and perseverance, Crislip now is head of Methodist Fayette Hospital and is making changes that have the facility poised to face the future.
His path to that position began when he was 20, hired as a territory sales manager for a therapeutic specialty bed company. It was a job in healthcare, and that’s where he knew he wanted to be.
“Before I started college, I took an aptitude test and it showed healthcare was what I was best suited for,” he said. “I thought that, as a male, I could bring a unique perspective to nursing.”
Crislip, who was born in Memphis, attended Bartlett High School and Briarcrest before earning his bachelor of science in nursing in 1992 and a master’s in business administration in 2007 from the University of Memphis.
“As I worked my way through school and into the start of my professional career,” he said, “I always knew I wanted to be in a leadership role and was pretty persistent in pursuing that goal.”
While in school, Crislip worked his way from student nurse to service manager at an outpatient clinic at The Regional Medical Center.
“I met weekly with the vice president over the clinic, Nancy Willis, and finally I wore her down,” he said. “As I gained responsibility for more departments, I placed a high importance on building teams, something that I have carried throughout my career.”
Crislip acknowledges his first few years at Fayette Hospital were difficult. What needed to be changed was obvious: The facility was overstaffed and not as clean as he wanted. One big hurdle that many rural hospitals face is competition for quality providers and staff.
“Our problems were solvable but challenging,” he said. “We needed to find the right people to be leaders in the institution, and we would have to increase our pay rate to attract them. It took two years to see change and five years to get things functioning the way they should. We used all the state and national resources available to help define the processes that were out there to help get us on track.”
Fayette Hospital did get on track, and people began to notice. In 2009, the hospital was recognized as a leader in rural health. The Leapfrog Leadership in Pneumonia Care Quality and Cost Award, given by the Memphis Business Group on Health (MBGH), acknowledged the hospital’s high ratings on the 2008 Leapfrog Hospital survey for the treatment of pneumonia. It is the only national survey to report a hospital-efficiency score, a combination of a hospital's quality of care and its use of resources.
The hospital has also ranked in the top 90 percentile nationwide on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey, whose four categories include cleanliness, communication with nurses and doctors, and communication about medications. The hospital also received Tennessee’s highest score for the quietest hospital environment.
“For seven out of the past eight years, we have been at the top in the Methodist system in associate loyalty. This high level of staff loyalty translates into better patient care,” Crislip said. “We have received national awards in pneumonia care and also excel in our scorecard goal for heart services. Meeting and exceeding these goals means the care we provide meets the same standards as that provided in larger cities, (eliminating any) need for patients to go to Memphis for the services we provide.”
Crislip believes in tooting your own horn when your hospital is doing things right.
“Rural hospitals fail if they do not get the message out about what they do well,” he said. “And they have to have inpatient and outpatient presence in their service area well beyond just their emergency department.”
There is a culture of constant improvement at the hospital.
“We push continually for our staff to look for ways to improve what we do,” he said. “By involving our physicians and staff in the improvement process, each person takes it to heart and runs with it. And that includes our medical staff.”
Crislip continues to work on telling the community about the hospital and what it has to offer so people will choose Methodist Fayette Hospital for their healthcare.
“It is important that we gain a presence in the community and meet the current needs while looking for ways we can grow with the community,” he said. “We still have people who work in Memphis and choose to get their healthcare there. We are willing to change the game to get them to stay close to home. We have implemented extended hours for some services so we can work around people’s schedules, not have them working around ours. We also do a lot of outreach with physician and APN-based educational programs that bring the public into the facility. This helps us get the message out about what we have to offer.”
Crislip credits being a part of a larger organization as one of the reasons for his hospital’s success. “We strive to be as advanced as we can be and are able to do so with the power of a system behind us,” he said.
When Crislip looks over his tenure at Methodist Fayette Hospital, he counts among the accomplishments a changed perception of the facility and a higher level of quality care.
“When I started here, I wanted our community to have a positive image of this hospital,” he said. “Through the improvements we have made and our ability to meet national benchmarks in quality care, we are emerging as a great place to work and come to for care. We have a high satisfaction rating from our patients, and we were recognized as the Large Business of the Year by the Oakland Regional Chamber of Commerce. I’d say we have come a long way, and that is thanks to the dedication and perseverance of our physicians and staff.”