Cynthia Persily, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dr. Persily is the CEO of Highland Hospital in Charleston, WV
Wow, does time ever fly! As of Wednesday of this week, I’ve been serving as the President and CEO of the Highland companies in Charleston for one year. It hardly seems possible, but the calendar doesn’t lie. As I look back on this first year, I want to share some of my observations about our organizations in particular, as well as the behavioral health community in general.
First, some observations about our organizations. We have some of the best people in the business working in our organizations. They perform their roles everyday with a smile, a pat on the back, and a kind word. They work in enormously challenging environments, with regulations that at some times feel obstructive. They have welcomed me with open arms, and have embraced change equally as effortlessly. We have worked together to improve every aspect of the patient experience and to change our structures and processes so that we can meet our mission more effectively. This has been no small undertaking, and yet we all keep at it every day, moving in a positive direction for our future.
Now some observations about the behavioral health community in West Virginia. There are so many needs for behavioral health care that so many organizations are trying to meet. The work that we do at the Highland companies is repeated over and over again in other agencies with similar goals across our state. The collaboration among agencies that provide behavioral health care services in West Virginia is unparalleled in any other sector that I’ve witnessed. We share ideas, strategies, heartache, and sometimes even staff. We work together to be sure that the patient is in the center of everything that we do. We are all colleagues. That is remarkable.
Finally, I’d also like to share some observations about the state agencies that oversee, pay for, and regulate behavioral health care services in West Virginia. While we sometimes like to complain about them, they are to a person that I’ve met, invested in caring for the patients who need our services. When I hear a state official talk about “the care that our members receive” or “the care that our patients receive”, I truly believe that they consider each and every patient who they are trusted to provide for as their own. These officials work with us as an agency to make care better for patients, whether it is through regulation, or through paying for additional services, or through imagining with us how the system can better serve those in need. I appreciate what I feel is a partnership.
When I took this position a year ago, at times I felt overwhelmed as anyone would. There has been a lot to learn, a lot of players to get to know, and a lot to do. There has never been a single day where I regretted joining these fabulous Highland organizations, and this collaborative community of people who care about what happens to most vulnerable in our society. I look forward to leading in this environment for many years in the future. Thanks for making my first year amazing!
PS: Stay tuned, because in two weeks, I’ll review what we’ve accomplished together at Highland in our last fiscal year—I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!