By ESTHER SMITH
News staff writer
For the past month James Arp, Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital’s new chief executive, has been busy settling into the position vacated by Larry Bowe last year.
Arp, who was offered the job in January after a nationwide search, came to Hood River from the St. Louis area on March 1. Though he is a newcomer to Hood River, the move still felt like a homecoming to him and his wife, Ann.
“I was born and raised in Cottage Grove; my wife moved to Eugene in about the 3rd grade,” he said. “We went to high school together in Eugene. We are happy to be back in Oregon.”
In the 14 years since graduation and college, Arp has crisscrossed the country to work at hospitals in Colorado, Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia, California, and most recently, Missouri. Though each move brought valuable professional experience, he is glad to say his moving days are over.
“Our kids are to the point where we don’t want to be moving around any more,” he said. The Arps have three children: Kate, 7, Jack, 5, and James, almost 3.
Arp is also excited to be coming to an organization with such a great reputation for striving for excellence.
“Hood River is the highest ranking facility in the Providence organization for patient satisfaction, physician satisfaction, and quality of care,” he said. “My plan is to continue the momentum that the hospital has gained in the three to five years since joining the Providence Health System.” Arp said that his biggest challenges are facility-related: How to expand the family birth center, and improving the “flow” in the building. As the facility has grown over the years, each addition has made the hospital’s layout more complicated, and getting from one area of the hospital to another is somewhat tricky for those who are unfamiliar.
“On a tour my first day, I noticed it was confusing,” Arp said. “I went out on my own later to see if I could find my way around, and I couldn’t. So we’ll be looking at ways to try and correct that.”
According to the hospital’s Web site, Arp has a track record of communications with employees, physicians, the community and the hospital board and foundation. The search committee was impressed with his strong history of leadership and his open, approachable communications style. Arp’s education background includes masters degrees in business administration and health care administration, and a bachelor of science degree in health services management.
For the past month Arp has been going through the orientation process, trying to meet as many people as he can and getting to know the hospital’s history.
“Everyone has been extremely welcoming, and accepting of me in my new role,” he said. “We’ll be able to do a lot of work together.”
Some of that work has already started. Since Arp’s arrival, PHRMH has finalized plans to purchase a new CT scanner — upgrading from one that takes one “slice” (image) per revolution to one that takes 16 per revolution — and soon the hospital will be getting two brand-new ultrasound machines to replace the units it has.
“We’ve also started construction on a new dialysis center to increase the capacity of the current center, which has been running at full capacity,” Arp said.
“There is a lot of activity going on in the future,” he said.“ We are growing and the staff has been doing a great job of building confidence.”