Westmont Magazine Helping Hospitals Be Healthy
Ken Bryan ’75 never took a business class at Westmont. But the pre-med biology major scored high in business as well as medicine in a career aptitude test. Intrigued, he interviewed some hospital CEOs to explore that profession — and they all advised him to forget it.
But he didn’t. When a friend casually said to him one day, “Why don’t you go into hospital administration?” something clicked. “My spirit said, ‘Absolutely,’” he recalls. “It’s been a walk of faith ever since. I found something that attracted and excited me.”
After 25 years in health-care management, Ken has become the president and CEO of Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital in Dunn, N.C. Previously, he spent four years as COO of Adena Health System, a hospital in Chillicothe, Ohio, and 16 years as senior vice president of operations and COO at Nanticoke Health Service in Seaford, Del. He began his career at Lock Haven Hospital in Pennsylvania, where he was vice president for five years.
Despite being pre-med, Ken decided against medical school. After graduating from college, he managed the Pittsburgh, Penn., branch of Manufacturer Survey Associates, a firm owned by the father of a Westmont friend, Arol Wolford ’75. “It was a great business, but it didn’t match my interests and gifts,” Ken says. Once he decided on hospital administration, he earned a master’s degree in public health at the University of Pittsburgh.
“When people walk in a hospital door, they trust that the people there know how to take care of them — and are prepared to do so,” he says. “It’s very important to honor that community trust.”
While he manages the hospital, Ken also takes a broader view of his work, seeking to provide good health care for the community and to recruit specialists needed in the region. “Another big challenge is the lack of health insurance,” he says. “Many of the 40 million Americans without health insurance still receive quality medical care.”
Like many such facilities, Ken’s hospital relies on the charitable work of a foundation to assist people who lack insurance. “Our foundation does phenomenal work,” he says. “It helps to bridge the gap for these patients.”
Another objective is promoting good relationships between doctors and the hospital. “As an administrator, I involve physicians in setting clinical direction,” he says. “Doctor-developed clinical plans for each area of medicine give physicians a sense of ownership and create a way for them to make joint recommendations to the board. The end result is that hospitals and physicians both achieve their goals: doctors can be successful in their practices and hospitals can provide an ongoing public service.”
Ken seeks to bring people together and achieve mutually beneficial solutions. In this task, he finds his faith has been helpful. “The Lord works in hospitals just as he does in churches and people’s lives,” he says.
The father of two grown sons, Ken takes a leadership role away from the office as well. He and his wife, Beth, serve in several ministries, and he teaches Bible studies and leads small groups. “My roots at Westmont have been extremely helpful to me, especially the training in science and biblical teaching,” he says.