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DECATUR — The new Chief Executive Officer Joan Coffman at HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital said she’s had “an amazing” first week. Everyone she’s met has been hospitable, the spirit of the community is so strong and her colleagues are very engaged, she said. 

“It’s been a wonderful first four days,” Coffman said.

Coffman has worked in the HSHS hospital system since 2008. She came to Decatur from HSHS St. Joseph’s in Chippewa Falls, where she served as the COO, and CEO and president.

The hospital announced the former CEO Dan Perryman was no longer an employee on June 1, and announced Coffman as the replacement on August 2.

She earned her Master of Business Administration degree at the University of New Orleans. Coffman is originally from New Orleans and worked at Lindy Boggs Medical Center until it closed after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“Joan is a dynamic leader in our organization, and we are excited to have her dynamic leadership in Central Illinois,” E.J. Kuiper, HSHS Central Illinois Division president and CEO, said in a statement. “She is a proven leader in HSHS, with her enthusiasm and dedication to delivering patient-centered care with a true commitment to our mission. We are excited to see what she can do for the Decatur community.”

Coffman’s goals for her new position include a 90-day plan, which includes speaking with as many people at the hospital as possible and learning as much as she can, she said.

“I really need to get to know the colleagues, medical staff, the volunteer base and the community at large,” she said. “And to appreciate how we are performing today, what are our strengths and opportunities.”

One major goal is to continue to expand upon the relationship with St. Mary’s Hospital and the community.

“We want St. Mary’s Hospital to be the workplace of choice for our colleagues and our physicians and we also want to be the destination of choice in the community,” she said.

Coffman said she won’t focus on what services Decatur Memorial Hospital does and does not offer because that isn't St. Mary’s goal. The goal is to care for the patients. 

“It’s more important for us to focus on who we are as an organization, on our ministry, our mission and our services and programs,” she said.

As part of a wider effort to support the community, Coffman said she hopes to support endeavors for new businesses and new partnerships around Decatur. 

“It’s important to us to respond to identify needs of the community and act on them,” she said.

Despite the uncertainty with the Affordable Care Act, Coffman said she thinks there is an opportunity to redefine how to provide care.

“Our goal as a faith-based ministry is always to provide access to care and service for all people so anything that can help to create that pathway and enhance that pathway is well-suited to us,” she said.

From a reimbursement perspective, Coffman said it is unclear what challenges and opportunities may come. But she is confident that St. Mary’s mission is not threatened and will continue to provide service regardless of an individual’s ability to pay for the care.

“With whatever resources we have, we use the best resources available to meet the mission and the needs,” she said.

Other projects that are underway include the renovation and expansion of the intensive care unit. Also, they are building additional space for the medical staff.

Coffman is also pleased with the Meet the Survivor campaign. The campaign highlights a photograph of a patient who is alive today because of the care they received at St. Mary's. 

“It’s a way for the patients and us to say thank you to our team,” she said. “It is really a testimony to the colleagues and the medical staff that deliver the care and service.”

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