New Centra CEO opens up to business leaders about future path of the health care system

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August 14, 2019
View full story at The News & Advance....New Centra President and CEO Dr. Andy Mueller made his debut to the Central Virginia business community Wednesday morning at The Summit by delivering what Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance COO Christine Kennedy said is the most transparent talk she’s heard from a community leader.

Mueller started in May, replacing former CEO E.W. Tibbs, who stepped down in 2018. Mueller spoke openly to business leaders about the opportunities and challenges Centra faces on Wednesday.

He said Centra’s board of directors was forthcoming and transparent about those challenges during his interview process.

“I’ve been equally impressed with the magnitude of some of the challenges we face. They’re bigger than I thought at first,” he said. “I’ve also been equally impressed with the organization and the people in it.”

He said had he known about them beforehand, he still would have happily taken the job.

“What has become increasingly clear to me is we’re going to have to become an organization that is nimble, change-ready and embracing of a new tomorrow and in order to do that we have to have an energized and excited team right now,” he said.

Centra employs 8,367 people and covers around 8,000 square-miles in and around Central and Southern Virginia.

Many staff members of Centra are struggling, Mueller said, and many have opened up to him about their frustrations. He said Centra employees did not receive merit raises or an expected discretionary contribution to their retirement plan this year.

“I think the crux of it for many is that the values they hold near and dear to their hearts, about how they want to give and find fulfillment in their purpose of caring for others, has seemed to be a little bit at odds with what they perceive to be the values of the organization as it has grown over the last few years,” he said.

When that happens, it leads to burnouts, disengagement and apathy in their jobs, he said.

“I think we expect them to come to work every day, work really hard to engage in physical work, work that requires people to invest a tremendous amount of emotional energy. And in exchange for that, I think we treat them very very, very difficultly in healthcare.”