Although her role as Chief Financial Officer of Baptist Memorial Hospital - Huntingdon may not look like that of some of her counterparts in the Baptist Memorial Health Care system, Sharron Holland would not have it any other way. While many may think that a small rural hospital may not be impactful, Holland would be the first to disagree. Over her 38-year tenure at the hospital, she has seen first-hand the difference it can make not only in her community but on the system as well.
Holland's road to CFO began when she graduated from Huntingdon High School in 1979, taking a job working the switch board and in admissions at Carroll County General Hospital. "I was 17 and just wanted to start my life," said Holland. "People at the high school knew people at hospital and got me an interview. I graduated on a Thursday and started working on Monday."
The hospital was purchased by Baptist Memorial Health Care in 1983. While working full-time, Holland pursued an associate degree in accounting from Jackson State Community College. "I really enjoyed accounting when I took it in high school and knew I wanted to do something in that field," she said. "I liked that everything balanced and came out right."
While she was advancing her education, Holland was also advancing at the hospital. Her roles included patient accounting, insurance and billing before moving into accounting where she initially did payroll, charge entry, supervisor and ultimately the position she holds today, CFO. She also completed a bachelor's in business with a major in accounting while working full-time.
"I left the accounting supervisor position to be the director of financial services, then became controller," said Holland. "We did not have a CFO at the time and being such a small institution, it was basically the same job as controller so it was really more of a title change for me."
In her role as CFO, Holland wears many hats. She is responsible for the coordination of the finances of the hospital, including direct responsibility for the accounting, admissions, switchboard, business office, information systems, health information management and purchasing/materials management departments. She prepares monthly financial reports for the hospital, home care and hospice. She also serves as the compliance officer for the hospital.
"Working with people you go to church with and seeing them around town makes the culture a little different. It is more like a family and that includes the fussing. Sometimes we may be a little too honest with one another because we are so familiar with one another," she said. "But we are here for the right reason and want to do what is right for the patient. That sentiment starts with our CEO. The culture starts at the top and works its way down and it is up to us to see that it is enforced throughout the facility."
Holland says she sees her role as one of leading by example and providing guidance. "The employees are the ones doing the job, so they probably know more about it than I do. They know what needs to be done, I just need to help them get there. Team work is essential," she said. "Over the years, I have learned I am not perfect and I will make mistakes. I think it is important to acknowledge your mistakes, apologize and learn from it."
Holland has her hands in the day to day operations far more than her counterparts, which can be both an asset and a liability. "Time management and organization are very important. There are times when you and your team are called to a meeting but I may be the team so there is no one to cover if I am gone. Fortunately, I have people that can sit in when I have overlapping meetings. Technology, such as video conferencing, is also a great tool that I rely on," she said. "But a small facility can also be of great benefit to the overall system. Sometimes we can identify a problem in a process or system and have it addressed sooner than a larger hospital would due to our smaller numbers."
With 38 years in healthcare, Holland has seen her share of changes but the one that posed the most challenge she says was transitioning to electronic health records in 2015. "We were truly an all paper environment and the transition touched every department except for human resources and plant operations," she said. "There was so much training involved while employees still had to be on the job. That made it a real challenge to pull off but we just tried to think of the positives and it has been a great thing for us."
One of the things that Holland says makes a small facility so special is love for and knowledge of the community. "We know what we need in our community and are willing to fight for it," she said.
Holland says retirement is on the horizon. Having an aging parent, her mother-in-law is 89, and a grandbaby is making her consider it a bit more seriously each year. "I always tell new employees, it is not always about money. It is about our time and what we have been entrusted to do," she said. "This community needs this hospital and I want to be sure that it is still here after I am gone, so it is important to me that I leave it in a good position."