Home » Q & A » Q&A: Lester Diamond, Executive Vice President-Operations, St. Dominic Hospital

Q&A: Lester Diamond, Executive Vice President-Operations, St. Dominic Hospital

Lester Diamond was born in St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he has worked since 1992, and currently serves as executive vice president of operations. He grew up in Millington, Tenn., and attended Memphis State University before earning a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of Mississippi. Diamond and his wife, Gina, have two sons. They are members of St. Richard Catholic Church.

Q — How did your career in healthcare administration begin?
A —
I began my administrative career in 1985, with Charter Medical Corporation as an assistant administrator. This tenure consisted of positions at Charter Plains Hospital in Lubbock, Texas, and Charter Peachford Hospital in Atlanta, Ga. In 1988, I accepted the position of chief operating officer at Laurelwood in Euclid, Ohio.

I joined St. Dominic in October 1992 as vice president for the North Campus. In 1996, I accepted the position of vice president of professional services. In January 2007, my operational responsibilities were broadened when I was promoted to executive vice president of operations.

Q — St. Dominic’s prides itself on offering exceptional customer service. How do you create a culture of caring at your hospital?
A —
Several years ago we set out to develop a program that our staff could get their arms around. What resulted was E3 -An Exceptional Encounter Every time. What began as an approach to customer service has evolved into a developing culture of the pursuit of excellence in how we deliver services and treat our patients, their families, our physicians and each other, as employees. Simply put, we want to do the

right thing to the right person at the right time in the right fashion — the first time. This is a lofty goal but one worth pursuing, given the mission of our hospital and the nature of our business.

Q — How will healthcare reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, financially affect St. Dominic’s, a nonprofit hospital?
A —
There is still uncertainty around what healthcare reform will look like specifically in the future, but I think we all can envision there will be pressures to reduce the amount of money spent on healthcare in the country and that we will be looking at possibly declining reimbursement. We will have to reduce our cost structure and at the same time, meet a higher demand for quality, safety and highly effective delivery models. And being able to measure that — we are being asked to measure how satisfied our patients are with our service and how we do on certain measures and outcomes. Even reimbursement is being tied in the future to customers’ satisfaction and outcomes.

At the same time we will provide that Christian mission and healing environment that St. Dominic’s has become known to provide over the years. There are a lot of competing interests, but it’s imperative for us to keep that at the forefront because that’s who we are.

Q — What plans does St. Dominic’s have for maintaining and improving quality care while driving down the cost of care?
A —
Significant financial challenges exist for St. Dominic’s and all providers. We have long range plans in place to continue the improvement of our care delivery process while lowering our cost structures. Our country’s current healthcare environment did not evolve overnight, and a sustainable solution will not be found overnight. It is a significant challenge that requires a multi-year commitment of our employees and medical staff to avoid re-admissions, control supply costs while maximizing the patient experience.

If you’re doing things in an E3 fashion, you’re going to be very efficient and very effective in the care that you deliver and therefore should be able to meet the demands around cost structure in the future.

Q — Your most recent on-campus addition is the new mental healthcare facility?
A —
We are in the process of razing half the Behavioral Health Services (BHS) building and rebuilding it. When we finish it, we’ll move into razing the other half and rebuilding that, ending up with a total new facility of 78,000 square feet and 77 beds.

St. Dominic’s is investing over $16 million back into the Jackson community. The BHS facility replacement comes at a time when many hospitals that provide these mental health services, which are usually “break-even” at best, financially, are closing their doors and shutting down this type of behavioral health treatment for patients. (It has become) a mission-driven interest of ours. If we don’t provide this service in our community, then who will? Our money doesn’t go to stockholders. We reinvest our money back into the community, and the Behavioral Health Center is an example of that investment.

According to the Mississippi 2010 State Health Plan, there are only 546 licensed adult psychiatric beds statewide.

Q — What are some development goals you have for St. Dominic’s?
A —
St. Dominic’s remains committed to meeting the needs of patients in Madison County. Our application to relocate up to 71 acute care beds is currently under review at the Mississippi Supreme Court, and the decision could take approximately nine months.

St. Dominic’s has plans to grow its physician network to extend our quality, compassionate care close to where citizens live and work. St. Dominic’s physician network — St. Dominic Medical Associates — employs 27 primary care and specialty physicians in the community. Combined with St. Dominic Health Services’ ownership of the 12 MEA Clinics, employing 30 plus primary care physicians, and St. Dominic’s physician alignment and co-management agreements, the network represents one of the largest and the most geographically accessible and comprehensive physician networks in the Central Mississippi region.

Currently, St. Dominic’s operates clinics within the Pearl, Madison and Clinton Walmarts.

The clinics provide a basic level of primary care and also help promote timely access to preventative services such as check-ups, immunizations, and screenings. Appointments are not necessary and insurance will be accepted. Any referrals needed for additional care or diagnostic testing will be made through St. Dominic’s network of primary care and specialty clinics as well as St. Dominic Hospital.

More on Diamond:
Favorite movie:
“Remember the Titans”
Favorite Food: Spaghetti (especially my wife’s)
Favorite book: “Why Hospitals Should Fly” by John Nance


… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.

If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.

Click for more info

About Amy McCullough

Leave a Reply