^pBy ELAINE ALLEN-EMRICH

Community News Editor

ENGLEWOOD — Michael Ehrat arrived at Englewood Community Hospital last month with 26 years of leadership and clinical patient care experience in urban and community settings.

This week, he met dozens of business owners, community leaders and health care workers at an open house at the hospital. Some told Ehrat about longtime partnerships their civic groups have with the hospital. Others were anxious to work with Ehrat on new ventures.

Ehrat replaced Valerie Powell-Stafford as the hospital CEO in May. The 100-bed hospital sees more than 22,000 emergency room visits and about 50,000 patients annually. Ehrat oversees a staff of more than 400 employees.

The Sun^p asked Ehrat about his new role at the hospital.

You came from Sovah Health Martinsville, a LifePoint Health two-hospital system in Virginia. Is there much difference between that hospital and Englewood Community Hospital?

“Englewood is actually similar in demographics to the area in Virginia where I worked. We had an aging population which needed certain services. I believe Englewood Community Hospital is always looking at how to better serve our markets and how to expand services to our demographic. We also serve the North Port population which has a younger demographic in the county.”

What do you bring to Englewood Community Hospital as the CEO?

“I have a clinical background as a physical therapist and athletic trainer from Terre Haute, Indiana. I was an associate administrator at Centennial Medical Center in Nashville and the chief operating officer at Skyline Medical Center in Nashville. I was the chief executive officer at Mainland Medical Center in Texas City, Texas and the CEO at Sovah Health Martinsville in Virginia.

“From a hospital standpoint, I bring experience of how medical facilities are run in other states. There are different ways of doing things. If it makes sense to make changes here I’m for it if it allows us to expand or add services for our patients.”

The hospital staff participates in community events and co-sponsors activities. Do you plan on being a part of the community?

“Yes. I’ve been out to speak to the Rotary Club and others in the first month so far. The open house was intended for me to meet the business community and other leaders. I will get to know everyone soon enough.

“I’m impressed with the people of Englewood. If there’s anything we can do to help, we will. We like helping where we are close to home. In September, I will be speaking to the H2U group. They support the hospital They are one of the largest groups that we work with consistently.”

(The program is for like-minded people interested in a healthy lifestyle, according to hospital spokesperson Tiffany Briggs. For $20 annually, members receive access to a health portal with timely articles, health trackers and a magazine, prescription discount cards, online shopping and travel discounts, dental and eye-care discount plan and invitations to hospital-sponsored activities. There’s more information at www.H2U.com. The group does chair yoga, plays bridge, Hand and Foot, Pinochle, Euchre and other card games.)

Englewood Community Hospital received straight A’s from 2012 to 2019 through the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade system. Was it easy to come to the hospital?

“Yes, because there’s a great staff at Englewood Community Hospital that creates a caring and safe environment for our patients. You don’t find that at all hospitals. Englewood Community Hospital is a real plus for this community. We are one of the top hospitals in HCA Healthcare. Our physician satisfaction rate is in the 97th percentile. Our patient engagement and satisfaction ranks as one of top hospitals in West Florida division.”

What’s next for you and Enlgewood Community Hospital?

“We are busy with our 2020 strategic plan. Right now there’s a learning curve for me. I am learning and meeting with the board. We are focusing on recruitment and growth. We want to scale infrastructure and operations for growth, yet remain efficient. We have a future facility refreshment project to renovate the ED and front lobby. We are also working on strategies to serve the West Villages and the rest of North Port’s population. I will continue to meet with physicians and attend community meetings.”

Email: eallen@sun-herald.com

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