Morris — Mark Steadham, chief executive officer and president of Morris Hospital and Healthcare Centers, recalled his first visit to Morris Hospital.

The hospital was hosting a Camp 911 event, an interactive program that teaches kids about first aid and safety.

Steadham said he looked at the parking lot filled with kids, their thrill at seeing an ambulance and helicopter, and he marveled at Morris Hospital’s community focus.

That was 12 years ago, and Steadham said his impression is unchanged. Steadham will retire Friday and start a new life with wife Debbie in Tennessee.

But he’s thankful for his service to Morris Hospital and praised the hospital board for its vision.

“Morris Hospital is the best hospital that I ever had the opportunity to be associated with,” Steadham said, later adding, “It’s really all about the people and the culture of the organization that is really focused on the patient experience and the quality of the care that’s provided here.”

Learning how a hospital is run

Steadham said his first job was in the housekeeping department of the George H. Lanier Memorial Hospital in Valley, Alabama, “a small community hospital just like Morris Hospital,” he said, where his father, Harold Steadham, became administrator in 1957.

“My dad, also my mentor, made it clear to me that you don’t start at the top in a hospital,” Mark said.

Mark said he also worked in the X-ray department, developing film and escorting patients.

“I learned a lot through those opportunities,” Mark said. “Mr. Fred was the chief X-ray technician. He taught me a lot about respect for patients and how X-rays worked.”

Harold later became hospital administrator at William Newton Hospital in Winfield, Kansas, where Mark worked while attending community college. Mark said he cleaned surgical suites and later worked in the maintenance department, where he learned about hospital safety from the electrician.

Still later, when Mark was earning his master’s degree in business administration, he worked in the admissions department at St. Joseph Hospital Medical Center in Kansas.

“I was responsible for admitting patients in the night, mostly, of course, through the emergency room,” Mark said. “I was also responsible for making sure the census count for about 350 patients was correct every night.”

One task provoked anxiety: relieving the switchboard operator during her lunch break.

“And if you can picture the old-timey switchboards with the plugs and everything – it was the most intimidating part of the job,” Mark said. “I was always afraid I would hang up on someone in the middle of the night.”

Mark said he met his second mentor at St. Joseph Medical Center, the late Bill Bradshaw, who worked in the finance department.

“I learned more in the year and a half I worked with Bill about finance than I learned in the six years of college,” Mark said. “He was wonderful to me.”

A satisfying and productive career

Before Morris Hospital, Mark worked 16 years at St. Catherine Hospital in Garden City, Kansas – 10 years as vice president and six as president and CEO.

Mark then worked as vice president of operations at Murray-Calloway County Hospital in Murray, Kentucky. Mark became CEO and president of Morris Hospital in 2010.

He said his relationships with people made hospital administration a satisfying career.

“There is probably no more diverse industry than a hospital,” Steadham said. “We have people who are hired and then trained on the job to people who are MDs and PhDs. No other opportunity I know has such diversity of their work and yet everybody has to work together.”

According to Morris Hospital, the following are Mark Steadham’s key accomplishments as CEO and president:

• Grundy Economic Development Council board member and board chairman.

• Illinois Hospital Association board member.

• Illinois Provider Trust board member.

• Rotary Club member.

• Doubled number of immediate care centers from two to four.

• A new emergency department with twice the capacity of the former one.

• Grew hospital health care centers from fewer than 10 to more than 25 and employment of doctors from 12, mostly primary care, to more than 50, which includes specialists.

• Practice affiliations to create partnerships between the hospital and medical staff.

• Growth of hospital employment from 675 to more than 1,400.

• Developed of succession plans for management team.

• Established partnership with Morris Community YMCA.

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