Sky Ridge Medical Center, a member of HCA Healthcare, has established itself as a destination hospital offering a vast selection of services. Kirk McCarty, CEO, dissects the power of community and forging a healthier tomorrow for patients
Sky Ridge Medical Center (Sky Ridge) offers the latest in medical innovation, delivered in a calm, soothing and most vitally, a healing environment.
This, in combination with a world-class array of services and a team of the area’s top healthcare professionals, places Sky Ridge as a model of care for the rest of the country. The impressive facility offers an array of patient-centered programs, including its comprehensive Cancer Center, Trauma and Stroke Centers, Center for Robotic Surgery, award-winning Birth Place and state-of-the-art Spine and Total Joint Center.
With the significant expansion of services over the last 19 years, Sky Ridge takes pride in its Level II Trauma Center, delivering exceptional care for stroke, heart attack and trauma patients, as well as its impressive growth in oncology care with the addition of fellowship trained oncologists, gynecology, urologic oncology, breast and colorectal surgeons.
Since its opening on August 20, 2003, Sky Ridge has grown to a 284-bed hospital, located in Lone Tree, Colorado, boasting an ever-growing reputation for providing clinical excellence and world-class services to both its patients and colleagues. Complemented by the latest technology in women’s care, spine, neuro and orthopedic services, robotic surgery, and top-rated emergency care, Sky Ridge seeks to provide a healthier tomorrow for every patient and family, so they rarely need to leave the community for care.
“We are fortunate to be part of HCA Healthcare, which has provided us with the encouragement, resources and capital to expand and adapt to the changing healthcare needs in our community,” says Kirk McCarty, CEO of Sky Ridge.
Reflecting on his path to CEO, McCarty recalls a formative experience whilst attending an event held for children battling cancer. During this time at “Camp Quality”, he was paired with one of the young patients.
“It was this life-changing experience that helped me realize that I wanted to help people, and I immediately started formulating a plan to enrol in medical school,” he reflects.
Later, while visiting his hospitalized grandmother, McCarty saw the remarkable work of the nurses who patiently and compassionately cared for his beloved relative.
Soaking up this behind-the-scenes insight of hospital operations, getting a sense of the noble work that was being done in the ICU, and how those amazing nurses forged personal connections with patients, helped ignite the spark to become a nurse. This led to 16 loyal years working at the same hospital, starting as a nurse and leaving as Vice President of Operations. Grasping an exciting opportunity to join Sky Ridge almost eight years ago, he believes that his extensive and varied accumulation of industry experience prepared him effectively to take on the complex nature of the Chief Operating Officer role that led him to become CEO.
AN INDUSTRY LIKE NO OTHER
In the hectic day-to-day operations of a complex medical facility like Sky Ridge, no two days are the same. Caring for patients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the hard-working professionals of Sky Ridge encounter the very best days when a baby is born as well as the worst days when a patient loses his or her battle for health.
Nevertheless, McCarty is keen to express how exhilarating the healthcare industry is and how daily activity in a hospital can provide both motivation and inspiration.
“It is honestly the most exciting thing that I can imagine doing. Working in a hospital is like working in a city. We encounter all the same challenges of hectic city life in our hospital daily.
“What makes this profession truly unique is that you’re caring for people at their most vulnerable moments, and they entrust you with their lives. This truly impacts me as a person and as a leader, since we always want to do the right thing for our patients and their families,” he explains.
“The biggest challenge we face here in the US is staffing, as is the case in many industries post-pandemic. Therefore, we need to rethink how we recruit and retain staff as well as how we provide care to ensure that we are always here to fulfil our patients’ needs,” McCarty adds.
“My number one job as CEO is to ensure that every member of our team feels supported, valued and appreciated.”
LEVELING UP FACILITIES
Sky Ridge now boasts a fully operational Robotics Center to support its hugely successful robotics program. With more robots than any other hospital in Colorado, this Center of Excellence has performed more than 8,000 robotic procedures.
“Before robotic techniques, open surgery was most frequently used, which involved major incisions, and this meant patients were in the hospital for four or more days to recover after an operation. Robotic surgery gives surgeons greater precision, requires much smaller incisions and there is less blood loss. Patients are typically going home the same day, which has truly transformed care,” McCarty describes enthusiastically.
Sky Ridge performs more than 1,600 robotic surgeries a year. With the opening of its new, dedicated Center for Robotic Surgery, Sky Ridge has created a modern space that appeals to patients and their families as well as the surgeons who use these state-of-the-art surgical suites.
“With this new Center, our goal was to offer the feeling of being in a private physician’s office to help reduce anxiety and create a comfortable experience for the loved ones who are waiting,” he adds.
THE BEATING HEART OF THE COMMUNITY
“When we opened, Sky Ridge was the first hospital in Douglas County – one of the fastest growing counties in the country – and we are proud that we have contributed to the robust growth in our area,” says McCarty.
It was this same spirit and pride in the community that saw people rally around Sky Ridge during the COVID-19 pandemic, writing supportive messages in chalk outside the building.
“COVID-19 really helped me realize how important community is to Sky Ridge, and likewise how important we are to the community. Being nimble and adapting to what the local area needs has been vital for us,” says McCarty.
Determined to always strive for the best and create a winning attitude, McCarty relies on feedback from the Employee Advisory Group, comprising colleagues from all areas of the hospital. Members report directly back to McCarty once a month, creating an effective feedback loop to enact meaningful change.
Through the ideas put forth by the Employee Advisory Group and the Colleague Engagement Committee, colleagues may take advantage of an on-site gym, a ‘Recharge Room’ with massage chairs, and a roving ‘Lavendar Cart’ with treats and uplifting messages.
“We lean on shared governance, and really try to engage with our staff to be part of the decision-making process for new policy or procedures as well,” expands McCarty. “This is an important aspect of employee engagement and belonging.”
After navigating a major operational pivot post pandemic, Sky Ridge has proclaimed this year as ‘Year of the People’.
“COVID-19 was a challenging time for all of us and tested us in ways we had never experienced before. There were so many unknowns when the pandemic first hit and our team worried that they would make it home to their own families,” says McCarty. “My goal was to get us through that period better and stronger than ever.
“The hospital simply cannot run without people. Our staff drive everything, and it’s my job as CEO to ensure that the team is focused and has the optimum conditions in place to succeed,” he concludes.