COVINGTON, Ga. - When Piedmont Newton Hospital’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jim Weadick retires June 30, he will end a career in healthcare that started in Vietnam in 1968.
Since arriving from a 288-bed hospital in Maryville, Tennessee in 1984, Weadick has spent the last 33 years as Piedmont Newton’s CEO. He told The Covington News his first priority when he got here was to get to know people.
“The first thing was to get acquainted with the people managing the hospital and the board of directors and begin to build avenues of trust with one another,” he said.
He said he also had to identify where shortcomings were and where some concentrated effort needed to be focused.
“A large part of it had to do with the acquisition of clinical equipment and making sure people were properly trained to use it to take care of patients,” he said.
When asked what he was most proud of from his time at Piedmont Newton, Weadick immediately mentioned its staff.
“I’m extremely proud of the men and women who work here. I think they’re outstanding,” he said. “They’re hard workers, they’re well trained. They’ve got good educations and they’re interested in what they’re doing. They’re interested in taking care of patients and doing their best.
“Being able to attract them and others over the years to come to work with us and stay with us has been very important to me.”
Weadick said the hospital’s construction of the medical office building and the bridge that connects it to the hospital in the mid-nineties was an important step in the growth of healthcare in the community.
“When we did that, there really was no Class-A medical office space in the community at all,” he said. “most of the doctor’s practices were located in converted houses that had been converted to doctor’s offices. We knew we needed to do something. After we built it, a number of other people began to jump in and do the same thing.
“Now, we’re at a stage where we’re going to need more office space in the community for physicians we are working actively to recruit here.”
Weadick spoke of the positive impact the hospital’s affiliation with Piedmont Healthcare has had on medical care in the community.
“We have been able to assure for an indefinite period of time going forward that there will be acute care hospitalizations available to people who live in Newton County,” he said. “We will have physicians here to take care of people and we will continue to be able to provide the medical care that people need and that a community needs in order to grow.”
Though his successor has not been named, Weadick offered some advice for when they get here.
“Come in. Be physically visible, both within the hospital and within the community. Begin getting to know the men and women and the physicians in the hospital,” he said. “Don’t hide in your office, it’s the worst place in the world for you. You need to be out in the hospital.”
Weadick said he plans to stay in the community after his retirement. He also plans to spend more time on Lake Sinclair pursuing the hobby he started in 1976, sailing.
He offered his thanks to the hospital staff.
“It’s always an honor to serve with them every day. I’ve always looked forward to coming into the hospital,” he said. “They’re good folks to be associated with.”
Weadick said the hospital’s affiliation with Piedmont and plans that have been implemented will continue to provide care for the community when it is needed.
“We’ve done things to prepare for the future,” he said, “so there will always be a response to their needs.”