Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2015 - 07:42:25

JRMC CEO is leaving
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Jun 3, 2013, 13:33


HOPEWELL ó As Dia Nichols walks the hallways of John Randolph Medical Center with just a week left as CEO, he is greeted by nurses, doctors and patients all with smiles, arms outstretched and words of well wishes. It is apparent he will be missed, and within moments, and after a few embraces, it is clear, the feeling is mutual.

ďThis is a fabulous organization and I really think itís because of the people that make it that way,Ē Nichols said. ďAnd thatís what Iím going to miss most.Ē

Nichols has spent four years as CEO of John Randolph, which was his first time serving in that role, but not his first time at the hospital. He served as chief operating officer of John Randolph from 2004 to 2006 and from 2006 to 2009 he was COO of CJW Medical Centerís Chippenham Campus in Richmond.

His track to becoming a CEO started with his brother. His brother received his masterís degree from Ohio University in Health Administration and told Nichols he should get into the health care field. After doing his own research, Nichols found the path of health care administration was similar to what he was already studying in his undergraduate work as a business major at South Carolina State University. Once he began visiting hospitals as a undergraduate and understanding firsthand the impact an administrator can have on a hospital, he knew he was on the right path.

After graduating from South Carolina State University and getting his bachelorís degree in Business Administration, he moved on to Indiana University where he received his masterís degree in Heath Care Administration.

Nichols said one of the most impactful aspects of being a CEO is being able to set the tone, as well as the vision for the hospital and being able to touch the lives of the patients and their families as they pass through the sliding glass doors of John Randolph.
Dia Nichols gets a hug from one of the doctors at JRMC. Nichols spent his last few days walking the hospital saying goodbye to doctors, nurses, staff and even patients.

ďThatís whatís so appealing, the ability to lead an organization thatís able to have that type of community impact is appealing,Ē Nichols said. ďItís just working with some great people, doctors, nurses and staff. I mean where else, what other organization, what can you be in where you have the ability to go in and out of a patientís room and talk to the patients.Ē

Of his time at the hospital, Nichols said he has seen a tremendous amount of growth. Upon his arrival, the emergency room visits were around 31,000 a year. In 2012, the hospital wrapped up the year with just over 37,000 and Nichols said John Randolph is on track to surpass that number in 2013.

Nichols added that the hospital has also seen a growth in the amount of surgical services being offered, such as gynecological surgery to vascular surgery. He also said John Randolph has expanded the orthopedic program, as well as the joint and spine program.

Under Nicholsí leadership, John Randolph has seen another accomplishment. The hospital was named a Top Performer in Key Quality Measures two years in a row, 2011 and 2012 by the Joint Commission, one of the nationís leading accreditors of health care organizations.

Though it was under his leadership, Nichols does not attempt to take credit for the award. He said it is due to a dedicated staff, as well as community, that has pushed this hospital forward in terms of performance.

ďWhen you look at what weíve been able to do internally as it relates to our staff, we have without a doubt the best patient care team of any hospital probably in the country,Ē Nichols said. ďItís just such a fabulous organization. Thatís really because of the employees, because of the employees, the physicians, the volunteers that really just make this a fabulous organization.Ē

Upon his return to the John Randolph Medical Center family, Nicholas set about to change the perception the hospital had in the community and bring it up to the standard itís held to now. When he stepped into his role as CEO in 2009, he set out to attack and change those perceptions in the community that the hospital provided poor care and offered a limited amount of services.

With time and teamwork, Nichols and his staff worked to change that perception and with that came the change in the mission statement for the hospital, ďOur family taking care of yours because we care.Ē

ďAnd itís really now woven through the fabric of his organization,Ē Nichols said of the mission statement. He said the change in the staff can be seen every day as people work to make sure John Randolph keeps those standards held high.

With the embraces and goodbyes that Nichols encountered on one of his last days in the hospitals, it is of no surprise he is going to miss the people of not only John Randolph but also of Hopewell.

ďItís one of those hospitals, one of those organizations, one of those communities where you can really get your arms around it and you learn people and you know people and you know names,Ē Nichols said. ď... Itís those personal relationships that Iím going to miss most. Iíve developed a lot of personal relationships with people in the hospital and in the community.Ē

From his fondest memory at the hospital, when his eldest son, Donovan, 8, was born six years ago, to the staff that he is leaving behind, Nichols is taking with him a lifetime of memories from a place he said will always be ďvery, very special,Ē to him as well as his family, which includes his wife of almost 13 years, Andrea and his other son, Cameron, 5.

While he leaves a lot behind, Nicholas is looking forward to a new chapter in his life.
CAITLIN DAVIS/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Dia Nichols takes his time to say goodbye to some of the nurses during his last few days as CEO of John Randolph Medical Center.

Within the next few weeks, Nichols will be stepping into his new role as CEO of Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., a 288-bed facility, almost double of the 147-bed facility of John Randolph. He is returning to Florida, as he had served as the associate administrator of West Florida Hospital in Pensacola, Fla., prior to becoming COO of John Randolph in 2004.

ďIt is going to be a new set of challenges. Iím going to a great hospital down there and it looks like Iím going to be working with a great team down there as well, but I will miss the family at John Randolph and the Tri-Cities community,Ē Nichols said.

Nicholsí last day at John Randolph will be June 7.

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