New Merit Health CEO takes helm of hospital

Published 12:02 am Saturday, July 21, 2018


NATCHEZ – Lance Boyd said after one month in his new role as the chief executive officer of Merit Health Natchez, Boyd said he loves the Natchez area.

When his corporate supervisors told him he was ready for a promotion, Boyd said he started picking and choosing where he might want to go.

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“Then out of the blue, corporate called me and told me I would be a great fit here in Natchez,” Body said. “So, we came to Natchez and love it here.”

In early May, Merit Health Natchez announced that Boyd would take over managing the hospital. Before arriving in the Miss-Lou, Boyd had a broad range of healthcare management experience.

Boyd has been a nursing home administrator, led a group of 70 physicians for a physician-owned group of 230 providers in Knoxville, Tennessee, and most recently was the chief operations officer of Tennova Healthcare Turkey Creek Medical Center in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“I love facilities operations,” Boyd said. “Hospitals, to me, are one of the most rewarding challenges of my life — especially here in Natchez. This hospital is vital to this community. We must look at this job as we are here to serve the community. To me, there is nothing more rewarding than to serve and serve our fellow man.”

Boyd said he has two goals as the CEO of Merit Health Natchez. The first is to make the hospital a five-star healthcare operation and the second is to provide a level of service in Natchez that makes residents feel like they do not have to go to a larger city to receive excellent care.

“We want the people of Natchez, Vidalia, Ferriday and the other surrounding communities to access that sort of care here instead of driving two hours to receive it,” Boyd said.

To accomplish the first goal, Boyd said, hospital employees start every day and every shift with safety huddles.

In the huddles, workers talk about things they learned the day before, what went wrong and what can be improved upon. They talk about potential issues and how they can avoid problems, and they talk about lessons they learned from other hospitals that can benefit Merit Health Natchez.

“We share those things,” Boyd said.

In addition, Boyd said the hospital is working to improve its quality of patient care by implementing new satisfactory surveys. Whenever a patient is discharged from the ER, they are asked to complete a survey. Every Friday, Boyd said he reviews all the scores and comments, which can be used to improve the hospital’s services.

To accomplish the second goal, Boyd said he wants to make residents aware of everything Merit Health Natchez has to offer.

“I’m not sure the average citizen here can tell you that we can do robotic surgery here,” Boyd said. “I’m not sure if they can tell you that we have a new orthopedic surgeon here. We have a new surgeon that has a hand fellowship, who can do hand surgery here. We have a lot of services here that people may not realize. They don’t have to drive to Jackson or Baton Rouge to receive it.”

Not only that, but Boyd said the hospital is always trying to recruit the best talent.

“So, we can improve and expand our services here,” Boyd said. “Like the urology and cardiac care.”

Although Boyd said his time in Natchez has been busy, he said being the CEO role is not overwhelming as he was an interim CEO at a Lewisburg, West Virginia, hospital — which, he said, is comparable to Merit Health Natchez.

Boyd earned his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, where he lettered in baseball.

Before entering the health care field, he taught physical science, anatomy and physiology and Bible and coached varsity baseball and basketball.

Although Boyd said he has loved his time in Natchez, Boyd said he would not have taken the position if his wife, Toria, and daughter, Ella — who will be going into the eighth grade at Adams County Christian School, did not approve of the move. Boyd also has two sons, Hayden who lives in Arkansas, and Cabot who will be a freshman at Harding University this fall.

“We did feel this was an opportunity that we wouldn’t have experienced otherwise,” Boyd said. “It’s just when you get those unexpected opportunities, you look at them real hard and figure out where you are supposed to go and serve.”