BILLINGS — After 10 years of service to the organization, Steve Loveless, president of SCL Health Montana and St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings, said his biggest accomplishment was drastically increasing the level of physician engagement at the hospital.
“When I arrived, our physicians were pretty disengaged, very low satisfaction. In fact, you couldn’t get much lower than we were at that point," Loveless said Tuesday.
SCL Health announced Loveless will be stepping down from his position on April 30. In his time with the organization, he said listening to staff was key to increasing physician engagement.
"You almost don’t find better engagement and frankly, you don’t find better physicians than we have engaged here, both employed and independent that work here. If you ask me what I’m most proud of, that’s one of the things that I’m most proud of. When I look back at the quality improvements, this is one of the best organizations in the nation to receive care," Loveless said.
Loveless pointed to St. Vincent Healthcare's Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services five-star rating and its position as one of Watson Health's top 100 hospitals in 2020 as evidence for the quality of care at St. V's.
At the end of the month, Loveless will transition from his role as a leader on a wide scale to one with a more specific approach as an executive coach. Loveless said his new job will be to help and support business leaders in the growth of their skills.
“In fact, I’ve come on to that through my 20-plus years in healthcare. I’ve always gravitated to leadership development. I have been involved in coaching. As a leader, you are always coaching. I have developed those skills and it’s just become a passion and an interest and one that I am going to pursue," Loveless said.
Loveless said he wasn't quite sure whether he and his family would move out of Montana.
“This is home for us. When we arrived here, my oldest was right before high school and three of them now are through high school. Another one is in high school now and in middle school. We love Montana. We’re discerning that today. We’ve got some things pulling us from a family perspective elsewhere, but this transition will give some flexibility to be with family and meet those needs as well," Loveless said.
In the meantime, Michael Skehan, St. Vincent Healthcare chief operating officer, will serve as interim president. He said he has six and a half years working with the organization and has worked closely with Loveless.
Skehan said he expects his short time as president to be one of growth for the organization, both in and beyond Billings.
“We have been growing over the last couple of years. I think during the period in which I will serve as the interim, it’s not going to be a time where we sit idly. It’s actually going to be a time where we run and we’re going to be running forward with a number of strategies that support our growth and outreach. So I look forward to sharing those in the coming weeks," Skehan said.
Skehan said he expects the hospital will need about six months to identify and train a new full-time president.
Loveless shared the idea that the hospital and its reach will grow over time. He said they brought on 53 new health care providers across the region last year.
“With that growth is going to come a need for expanded space. So you’ll see some things related to that. I think you’re going to continue to see the outstanding care and quality that folks are experiencing here. I think that we’ve built that into the fabric and that absolutely will carry forward," Loveless said.
St Vincent Healthcare has served the Billings area since 1889. St. Vincent is under the parent company of SCL Health, which operates three hospitals in Montana, 55 plus clinic locations in the state and has other facilities in Colorado and Kansas.