A Community Hospital

Lynda Stanley steps into role with years of experience

Stanley Story

LYNDA STANLEY knows Dosher Memorial Hospital inside and out. Her thirty-five-year career with the Southport health care organization has familiarized her with all the facets of its patient care as well with the management decisions that have enabled it to remain a successful small community hospital.

And she has long been an advocate for Dosher in the community, so she has her finger in the wind, gauging community expectations and perceptions.

In mid-September, Dosher’s trustees announced that Stanley, currently the hospital’s president, will also become its CEO in December when physician Brad Hilaman retires from that post. In making the announcement, board of trustees chairman Robert Howard said Stanley has long been the face of the hospital.

“She has always promoted the hospital through some good times and not-so-good times,” he said in a news release. “I cannot express enough how comfortable I am that Lynda has agreed to accept the CEO and President position.”

“Well, I did do some commercials for the hospital, so I guess people associate my face with Dosher,” Stanley says with a laugh when she hears that comment.

Having an entire community hospital – and by extension, the community it serves – under her care is a natural outgrowth of Stanley’s upbringing.

“I grew up in a small family business that was a family care home. My family had always been in the business of taking care of others, and that set the tone for me to want to be in health care,” she says. “I realized, however, that my role was not to be at the bedside,” Stanley says.

In high school, Stanley met a young woman who was a medical technologist and talked about the importance of that discipline within the hospital setting. Stanley decided a career in medical technology would be a good fit for her interests; she pursued a bachelor’s in that field at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

After beginning her career at Candler Hospital in Savannah, Georgia, Stanley came to Southport in 1986 as laboratory manager at Dosher. But others saw greater potential in her.

“I was encouraged by (Dosher’s) CEO at that time to go back to school and get master’s degree,” she says.

Accepted into Central Michigan University’s Masters of Health Care Administration but not being within easy commuting distance, Stanley drove to a satellite location at Fort Bragg every weekend for two years to complete her coursework. But even with that advanced degree and the skills it provided, Stanley wanted more.

“Being a lifelong learner, I went on to receive my FACHE certification,” she says, explaining that by being a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives gave her broader knowledge about hospital management. She served as Dosher’s chief operating officer for a time, gaining a comprehensive picture of the hospital’s responsibilities and capabilities. As her role with the hospital shifted into leading the Dosher Foundation, however, she needed specific development skills, so – lifelong learner that she is – she earned a certificate in philanthropy from the University of Massachusetts.

As president of the foundation, Stanley drew upon her deep knowledge of Southport and Brunswick County.

“I was on the board of Brunswick Community College for over twenty years, was president of the Southport-Oak Island Chamber of Commerce, and I still serve on the board of what was BB&T and is now Truist,” Stanley says. “People sometimes didn’t know where I worked, but it all circled back to the wellbeing of the community.”

Stanley’s husband, Joe, has been instrumental in connecting her with Brunswick County. He is a native of the area and runs a family business.

“He’s very engaged with the community as well,” she says.

She sees Dosher Memorial Hospital as being at the heart of the Southport-Oak Island community since its founding in 1930.

“Dosher still exists as a small community hospital because of the people,” she explains. “From the very beginning, Dosher was created because the community voted to tax themselves to support a hospital. Support from the community is definitely one of our strengths, and that rolls into the staff that are dedicated to doing the work and providing the care.

“You see people in the grocery store and on the street: these are your caregivers. I tell that to new hires: it’s their responsibility to provide the best care because of that community support. I told the board I would never take on this (new CEO) role if I didn’t have a team of people with a commitment to care, to do the right thing. I try to hold myself and the staff to the standard of great expectation because we have an obligation to take care of everyone who walks in the door.”

Stanley is happy to announce that the hospital has turned a significant financial corner. After years of running deficits, in July 2021 the hospital was $1.7 million in the black after projections were for red ink of $3.3 million to $3.5 million.

“That’s a turnaround of about $5 million,” she says. “It’s a positive balance sheet for the first time in over a decade.”

In recent years, the hospital has won recognition for several areas of specialization, including being named among the nation’s top one hundred hospitals for joint replacement and was the first in the region to offer robotic joint replacement technology. Dosher has also won plaudits for its wound care program.

“Today we have a niche as a small community hospital, and because of the growth of the community we’re in a good position to be successful,” she says. “We’re always looking for opportunities to collaborate with Novant so our community has the best care.”

To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to michaelclinephoto.com.

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Categories: Women to Watch