As a young man, business finance and accounting major Tim Hill had ambitious career objectives but none to do with health care. He certainly couldn’t have foreseen his appointment last year as vice chancellor for UAMS Regional Programs.
Moving up in the banking world, then advancing to leadership at IBM were the goals that dominated Hill’s career list. However, an undergraduate program at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minn., gave him a glimpse of the immense impact of the health care industry. Immediately, those business-focused aspirations changed course.
“Health care touches everything on the educational spectrum. It works with every discipline, it is people focused and
it is not without challenges,” said Hill. “My experience gave me a laser focus on this dynamic field and that was it for me, there was no turning back. I was setting out on this career journey called health care.”
His odyssey has taken him many places across Arkansas and the country. In 2011, after decades in various positions as a hospital administrator and chief executive, Hill became director of the UAMS Center for Rural Health, then a part of Regional Programs.
“The draw for me was to experience UAMS from the inside, having watched it from the outside since the late 1980s,” said Hill. “When you consider that UAMS serves the entire state and Regional Programs had partnerships with several community hospitals, it made it an absolute perfect fit for me because of the positive relationships I had developed and maintain across the state.”
That appointment was followed by a nearly two-year stint as director of the UAMS Center for Healthcare Enhancement and Development, which seeks to promote best care close to home by looking for partnerships and collaborations in underserved areas.
In August, Hill became vice chancellor for Regional Programs after serving as interim for two months following the retirement of Mark Mengel, M.D. Now, Hill oversees eight regional centers in Batesville, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Helena, Jonesboro, Magnolia, Pine Bluff and Texarkana.
Regional Programs, originally called the Area Health Education Centers (AHECs), was started in 1973 through the efforts of then-Gov. Dale Bumpers, the Arkansas Legislature and UAMS to train medical residents and provide clinical care and health education services around the state. In 2012, the AHECs were rebranded UAMS Regional Centers to promote a stronger, unified UAMS across the state.
“Tim Hill has done an exceptional job in leading Regional Programs during this transition,” said UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D. “He has clearly demonstrated that he has the skills, knowledge and inclusive and transparent management style needed to provide excellent leadership of Regional Programs in the future.”
In addition to his expertise and grasp of the health care landscape in Arkansas, UAMS Medical Center CEO Roxane Townsend said Hill’s ability to communicate with staff would serve him well in a position that requires a strong leader.
“As director of Regional Programs, you have to be a great communicator because you have staff at sites all over the state,” said Townsend. “Since you cannot meet with everyone on a daily basis, you have to take advantage of other communication tools and Tim’s skill set and background give him the ability to do that.”
Strong communication — along with honesty, hard work and fun — is central to Hill’s management style.
“Throughout my career, at the root of most breakdowns, you will likely find poor communication,” said Hill. “If there is an issue important enough to call to my attention, I have a responsibility to be available, no matter the time.”
The distance between each of the regional centers means the staff has to be perceptive and connected.
“Regional Programs has a tremendous wealth of experience and knowledge on staff,” said Hill. “Valuing each team member and the different experience and wisdom each brings is important to what we are trying to do.”
He wants Regional Programs to continue to capitalize on chances to expand across the state.
“Most importantly, we have to continue to do good work and foster good relationships with partners in the communities,” said Hill.
Last year UAMS began streamlining patient care into service lines by categories such as women’s services, primary care and surgical specialties. This integrated clinical enterprise approach is replacing the traditional academic medical center model of aligning care by academic department.
Constructing a closer relationship between Regional Programs and UAMS’ integrated clinical enterprise have benefits for all involved, said Hill.
“UAMS is becoming a full-on, integrated health care delivery system,” said Hill. “Looking at the areas where we have assets, programs and significant, positive relationships in those communities, we can leverage that into a full integration model for care delivery, which will mean better care for patients.”•