story and photo by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer
Richie Splitt’s kids attended All Saints Catholic School, just a stone’s throw away from the Norman Regional Healthplex.
He’s watched as the Norman Regional Health System has solidified itself over the past 70 years as the provider of choice for Norman and Cleveland County residents alike.
And just a couple weeks into his new role as the health system’s interim President and CEO, Splitt couldn’t be happier leading one of Oklahoma’s few remaining independent hospitals as it continues to evolve.
Norman’s second largest employer, only behind the University of Oklahoma, the Norman Regional Health System has undeniably woven itself into the fabric of Norman.
Splitt points to the health system’s employees as the reason behind its successes, growth and the community’s confidence in the level of care it provides.
“It’s our people,” Splitt said. “We can build beautiful buildings and bring in the latest technology and it matters not if we don’t have the staff who can operate it and make it function to the best of its ability and more than that relate to our patients and provide to them that reassurance and confidence and quality of care they expect.”
“It’s our people who set us apart from everybody else.”
Since May 2013, Splitt has served as the Chief Administrative Officer of the HealthPlex Hospital and Norman Regional Moore.
He has led the rebuilding efforts of the new Moore facility and established the EMSSTAT ambulance service in the community. Splitt has also been instrumental in the expansion of patient care services on the HealthPlex campus
“Richie will provide the continuity of leadership and organizational stability that Norman Regional staff and physicians require in order to continue providing exceptional care for our communities,” Authority Board Chair, Tom Clote said. “Splitt will provide strategic direction and work collaboratively with leadership, physicians and staff to ensure system initiatives continue, as well as future growth and development opportunities.”
Splitt took on the additional duties after former President and CEO David Whitaker left after 17 years.
“My main focus today is the same it was the day before any of this transpired and it’s our people,” Splitt said. “As leaders we’re called to provide a vision and a direction and reassurance and confidence and trust. I was doing that before and in this position it’s even more critical.”
The gains the health system has amassed are even more impressive considering the system operates as an independent entity and one of a shrinking number of municipal hospitals left in the state.
“I’m just one person in this process and I’m extremely humbled by this opportunity,” Splitt said. “It’s a great responsibility I’ve been given and I take that very seriously. I know as a single person I will fail without the help of the team and people around me.”
Splitt will soon engage Norman Regional staff with a series of town hall meetings.
“I’m attempting to provide information in a way they can have a better understanding about who I am and what I see for our organization through their eyes, their work and their healing hands,” Splitt said. “I would like to get affirmation … and I want to serve alongside them in the movement forward.”
Over the past 70 years, Norman Regional Health Systemhas grown to become a multi-campus system that serves healthcare needs throughout south central Oklahoma.
NRHS is operated by Norman Regional Hospital Authority, a public trust, which serves the public interests and functions as a political subdivision of the State of Oklahoma.
The acute-care facility on the Porter Avenue Campus is licensed for 324 beds and offers a full range of services.
The new HealthPlex campus at Interstate 35 and Tecumseh Road, licensed for 136 beds, features Cardiovascular Services, Spine and Orthopedic Surgery, and Women’s and Children’s Services.
On May 20, 2013 a tornado struck Moore Medical Center destroying the building. In May the new Norman Regional Moore emergency department will open to serve the emergent needs of Moore and south Oklahoma City.
Asked him if the continued confidence the hospital receives from the community ever surprises him and Splitt doesn’t miss a beat.
“I say no because I’ve been part of this community for many years of my life,” Splitt said. “I’ve known about this system for quite some time and have always admired it from afar until I joined it and became part of it.
“This is a very loyal community, a very proud community and they want what we want and that’s the best. They want the best for themselves and their loved ones and we want to provide the best possible care for them.”