Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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May 16, 2014

Public welcomes NRH CEO Stewart as he touts community, hospital relationship

Corsicana — First question out of the chute for new hospital CEO Michael Stewart did not target ER waits. It didn’t mention specialty services. Not even hospital food.

It was about the state’s most heated rivalry, Texas A&M vs. the University of Texas. Stewart, Navarro Regional Hospital’s bright, energetic new leader, holds an undergraduate degree from A&M, and a master’s from Texas.

“My allegiance is to both institutions,” he proclaimed proudly, drawing a laugh from a crowd of more than 50 in the hospital’s Café 22 gathered for a welcome event.

“Both helped make me the man I am today,” he said, garnering a few nods as he remained fair to both schools.

“But,” he continued, “when they play head to head, my allegiance is to A&M.”

That incited a few moans, but mainly cheers. It’s an Aggie type of town for the most part, and with A&M’s move to the Southeastern Conference a few years ago, that athletic rivalry is all but buried.

Stewart, who has an infectious smile and a light that seems to burn at a thousand watts, hopes to bury some of the old stereotypes of community hospitals during his stay, now just more than a month old.

While he was not born in Texas, Stewart said he considers himself a “good ol‘ Texas boy” nonetheless. While his work has taken him across the country, he considers himself home now.

“One of my intentions is to be a full-fledged member of the community,” he said. “I will be involved. ...

“And secondly, I want to push the envelope on what we do as a community hospital, and make sure we are doing the things we need to do to grow as a community hospital.”

Stewart continued with a mantra he shared at the recent Healthy Woman annual banquet, encouraging residents to trust Navarro Regional with more than just their emergency needs. In order for the hospital to grow and to continue to offer a wide array of services, he said, the public needs to be willing to be cared for at Navarro Regional for those services.

There are services residents drive to Dallas for that can be handled here.

“We save lives here everyday,” he said. “On the other side of that, a lot of lives start here.

“We take a lot of pride in that.”

The ability to offer specialties depends on how viable they are, both in need and financially, he said. The hospital will continue to pursue best practices from evidence based on facts, he said.  

On Thursday, it was more about saying hello, and shaking hands, and getting to know folks here. Stewart, who has an impending marriage on the horizon, said he hopes to close on a new house here soon.

He already looks at home.

“I am really humbled by the turnout,” said Stewart, who thanked staff members for the reception. “I am appreciative of everyone here.”

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