Friday, October 24, 2014

Felix lauds hospital in departure

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 2/28/2014

Larry Felix has seen the medical utopia. And it’s in Ottawa.

“[A doctor] came to me one day and he described our hospital as the medical utopia,” Felix, Ransom Memorial Hospital chief executive officer, said. “He said that because of the people, facilities and his colleagues on the medical staff, he told me it doesn’t get any better than this and that he really feels great about being here. That was quite a compliment, not to me necessarily, but to the organization that I’ve tried to lead.”

Larry Felix has seen the medical utopia. And it’s in Ottawa.

“[A doctor] came to me one day and he described our hospital as the medical utopia,” Felix, Ransom Memorial Hospital chief executive officer, said. “He said that because of the people, facilities and his colleagues on the medical staff, he told me it doesn’t get any better than this and that he really feels great about being here. That was quite a compliment, not to me necessarily, but to the organization that I’ve tried to lead.”

Before staff and community members said goodbye to the longtime administrator Thursday afternoon during a reception at the hospital, 1301 S. Main St., Ottawa, Felix sat in his office and reflected on his 41-year career in the health care industry, which included the past 14 years as Ransom CEO. Felix, 58, retired Friday.

Felix went to work in a hospital washing respiratory therapy equipment at the age of 17 in 1973 after graduating from high school in Ponca City, Okla. As a respiratory therapist for 17 years, Felix said, he worked in every type of hospital setting — including a burn unit at a Tulsa hospital and in air transport for the University of Kansas Medical Center. Felix has cared for patients who were suffering from every type of injury, illness or disease imaginable, he said.

“I had severe respiratory disease when I was a child, so I became a respiratory therapist,” Felix said. “I took care of patients from a 1-pound baby to a man who was 104 years old and everything in between. I’ve seen victories, and I’ve seen a lot of death. I guess I would say my [experiences caring for people] gave me the heart for leading an organization as a hospital administrator.”

During his tenure with Ransom, Felix recently guided the hospital through a $9-million addition and renovation project.

“Really the improvement in quality of care and broadening the scope of care that’s offered locally is probably my favorite achievement,” Felix said. “Being an accredited hospital and never having a medical liability suit during my tenure basically equates to we didn’t hurt anybody on my watch, and I’m very pleased with that.”

Felix also is gratified Ransom has maintained a policy of taking all-comers.

“We have always taken care of those patients who don’t have means, so if they come here and don’t have the ability to pay they still get care here, and I’m proud of that,” Felix said. “I think that’s what we ought to be doing in this hospital, and I frankly believe that’s what we ought to be doing in this country. I’m not a big fan of for-profit health care that pays dividends to stockholders on the backs of sick people.”

Health care is facing tremendous challenges, Felix said.

“[Ransom] being debt-free at this point and having some reserves in our financials going into this health care reform period that we are in now is certainly a plus,” Felix said. “There will be many, many hospitals that will fail completely through this or fail to the point that they will have to be acquired by other organizations, and I do not feel that Ransom will be among those. I do feel we can weather this and continue to be a locally owned and operated hospital to serve the citizenry in our county.”

Felix is looking forward to spending more time with family, performing volunteer and mission work, fishing and remaining in Ottawa, he said.

“I can’t think of a way that I would rather have spent my working life than helping other people in this way,” Felix said. “We’ve been able to — more often than not — help return them to health and have them go on with their lives.”

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