Five Questions With Louis Giancola

Louis Giancola | President and CEO, South County Health

1. Your retirement at the end of this month after 18 years at the helm of the health system comes during its centennial year. What are you proudest of? South County was once thought of as this nice country hospital and is now regarded as one of the best hospitals in the state. … We have had the highest patient-satisfaction ratings of any hospital in Rhode Island for 10 years. … I’m proud of the 1,200 staff members who made this possible.

2. How has the hospital survived in such a difficult national economic environment for independent community hospitals? We have thrived thanks in great part to the extraordinary care delivered by staff and physicians, along with our ongoing investment in new programs, facilities and equipment. We are fortunate to have partnered with South County Orthopedics to create our Orthopedics Center. The hospital [also] invested in a new robotic technology.

3. There have been failed merger talks during your tenure. What type of collaborations will keep the hospital serving the local community for years to come? Both times we engaged in discussions with larger systems, we sought access to updated information technology and the opportunity to share specialized physician expertise. We also looked for economies of scale in services that could be centralized, largely back-office functions [such as] billing. We continue to be interested in approaches where we can purchase services from a vendor or other health system at a lower cost.

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4. How important has the ongoing commitment to innovation, including robotic-assisted surgeries, been to helping the hospital stand on its own? Our investment in robotics reflects our commitment to providing excellent patient care and a cutting-edge location for surgeons to practice. We will only perform procedures where we can achieve excellent results. This requires the right technology paired with experienced surgeons, nurses and other team members.

5. Why is it so important for South County to have its own community hospital and health system? We are the go-to resource in the community for breast- and prostate-cancer screenings, school programs focused on healthy-eating habits and exercise, education related to mental health, first aid and many other wellness-related activities. It isn’t clear who would play this role if South County Health weren’t here. … We often say that we are neighbors taking care of neighbors.