SHERIDAN — Randolph Flechsig gets excited talking about rural healthcare like some people get excited talking about their favorite sports team.
Flechsig took on administrative duties at Sheridan Community Hospital just over one year ago. He describes the past year as busy and challenging, but in a good way.
“I’m a rural administrator,” he declared with pride. “I love it.”
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Flechsig graduated from college and went to work for the now-defunct Peoples Community Hospital Authority in southeast Michigan, which consisted of five hospitals. He later went to work as president of Davenport University, but decided to return to the healthcare field after resigning from the higher ed position in 2008. He was hired as Sheridan Community Hospital’s administrator in the autumn of 2012.
Flechsig came on board as the hospital’s new leader during an unusual time. The hospital was in the process of merging with Michigan Rural Health Care Preservation, which took over operator and manager duties of the hospital. The hospital’s board of directors became the newly created Sheridan Health Care Preservation, which remained a controlling entity of the hospital, along with Michigan Rural Health Care Preservation.
The hospital’s affiliation with Michigan Rural Health Care Preservation lasted less than three months, from September to early December 2012.
“There was a difference in vision,” Flechsig said. “That difference in vision began to create a conflict. The clash in culture was starkly different. It wasn’t meant to be. We went our separate ways. We are independent.”
Marvin Jay Tans of Stanton is the chairman of the 10-member Sheridan Community Hospital Board of Directors. He is retired as the assistant superintendent of Central Montcalm Public School.
“I think the future is positive,” said Tans of Sheridan Community Hospital. “That doesn’t mean dealing in healthcare isn’t a challenge today, but as we attempt to rise to that challenge, the future is looking good. We’ve made some changes that have been positive and we are moving in that direction.”
Independent and improved
Sheridan Community Hospital Executive Assistant Marilyn Faling has worked at the hospital for seven years. She’s excited about Flechsig’s leadership over the past year.
“He’s accomplished more in the year he’s been here than in the past five years,” Faling said. “For a while, we weren’t sure about our future. Now it’s really looking good. Morale has improved greatly.
“He listens to us,” she said. “We’ve never had that before. We’re included in the decisions. We have an input.”
Sheridan Community Hospital’s mission statement is based on four pillars — primary care (including three rural health care clinics in Edmore, Sheridan and Stanton), an emergency room department (featuring a 24/7 walk-in clinic), outpatient surgery and a new swing bed program, which gives 10 of the hospital’s 22 beds the option of “swinging” or transitioning a patient’s care from acute medical services to skilled nursing or rehabilitation. The swing bed program specifically focuses on patients recovering from hip or joint replacement surgery, trachea care, tube feeding, post-stroke and more.
Other improvements at the hospital over the past year include a switch from paper records to electronic records, a renovated rehab department, abilities for more orthopedic procedures and more invasive radiology procedures (biopsies and spine and lung procedures). The hospital has also signed an agreement with Central Michigan University for third-year medical students to do a semester at the hospital as an official clinical site.
“It was a busy and exciting year,” Flechsig said. “It went by quick. It was challenging in a good way.”
Sheridan Community Hospital remains classified as a critical access hospital, one of 37 in the state. The hospital has six physicians and four physician assistants under contract, as well as 11 specialists who visit the speciality clinic one or more times per week. The hospital employs 180 staff and associates.
“Small rural hospitals are a challenging endeavor, but we have some very talented people here,” Flechsig said. “Our board is proactive. They know where we need to go and they get us there. We’re controlling our destiny. We have a vision for being independent.”
For more information about Sheridan Community Hospital, call (989) 287-2548 or visit sheridanhospital.com online.