by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer
An eight-month executive search ended this month with the word “interim” removed from President and Chief Executive Officer Richie Splitt’s title.
The first weekend in November saw the Norman Regional Hospital Authority Board name Splitt, FACHE, to the position permanently after he took over for David Whitaker in March.
“Since his first day in 2013 and while serving as Norman Regional’s interim President and CEO, Richie’s dedication to this health system was evident,” said Tom Clote, chair of the Norman Regional Hospital Authority Board. “He is a visionary leader who empowers Norman Regional’s team of more than 3,000 employees to achieve superior quality patient care and operational excellence.”
Largely popular among staff and highly visible throughout the halls, Splitt served in the interim capacity through a nationwide candidate search as the hospital board brought a number of candidates in to interview.
Throughout the process he continued in his role helping the hospital re-open Norman Regional Moore, which was destroyed in the May 20, tornado, as well as overseeing the system’s re-accreditation in several high-volume service lines.
He guided the system’s major investment in its cardiothoracic and vascular surgery program, adding state of the art robotic surgery under vascular surgeon Dr. Jim Neel.
“It was extremely important to continue the good work of the great people already here,” Splitt said. “One constant in healthcare is change and I knew we could not stand still or we would lose ground. While it was an important and top priority for me to sustain those gains … I knew I was going to have to keep pushing for better results, better outcomes and all of those types of things.”
“Healthcare is changing every day and we have to change along with it or we get left behind.”
Before serving as the interim president and CEO, Splitt was the Chief Administrative Officer of the Norman Regional HealthPlex in Moore. He helped guide the rebuilding of Norman Regional Moore, after a tornado destroyed the former Moore Medical Center on May 20, 2013 and then expanded EMSSTAT, the health system’s ambulance service, to the City of Moore. He has led the expansion of both the robotic surgery and cardiovascular service programs for the Health System. Norman Regional recently celebrated 25 years of heart surgery and its 70th year of providing lifesaving care to the community with Splitt at its helm.
“There are tremendous pressures whether it’s declining reimbursements or unfunded mandates for technology or systems, data collection and submission – all of those things are high priorities for us and all the while we’re in a heroic industry and have that privilege of providing sacred care,” Splitt said. “We have to always remember our patients and at the same time be mindful of those requirements.”
Splitt has nearly 30 years of experience providing direct patient care, leading high growth operations in a multi-facility environment and driving operational integration and new business development. He earned his Master of Business Administration from Oklahoma City University. He earned both a Masters of Science in Health and Exercise Science and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communication/Psychology from the University of Oklahoma. He is a fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives. Splitt has served on the board of both the Moore and South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.
“Hands-down are greatest strength is our people,” Splitt said. “At Norman Regional we call them healers. We have nearly 3,000 healers who make a difference every single day all in the name of great patient care. By far the greatest asset for our organization is our people.”
“I feel so empowered by the people because when we work together we can really achieve some big things.”
The last decade has seen tremendous growth for the health system, which has now grown to three campuses across Norman and Moore.
More recently, the hospital system finished its last fiscal year meeting nearly every one of the quality, patient satisfaction and financial benchmarks set by the Norman Regional Hospital Authority Board.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t say what an honor and privilege it is for me to serve the great people of Norman Regional and I know our future is quite bright because I know the people,” Splitt said. “I know their commitment to our patients and the community. When we work together, align our mission and our vision then nothing will stop us.”