CTCA chief spearheads hospital’s growth
by Clay Neely
Since taking over as the CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Southeastern Regional in Newnan last November, Anne Meisner has overseen the incredible growth of the hospital — achieving their five-year goals within the span of only one year.
Originally a native of Zion, Illinois, Meisner moved to Newnan last year upon assuming her new position at CTCA.
“I live only seven minutes away from work, so I love it,” said Meisner. “I’ve been having fun getting to know the rest of Georgia as well. Just last weekend, I took a new friend into the Chattahoochee National Forest and hiked along Panther Creek to see the waterfalls. The geography down here is amazing and Newnan brings that wonderful, small, hometown ease.”
In fact, that was one of the things that sold Meisner on relocating to Newnan a year ago.
“I came a few times before I accepted the position. I was gradually introduced to the community and impressed with how the community embraced the hospital coming in,” said Meisner.
“I was also initially worried about being an outsider coming from Chicago. But it was never the case. People have been warm, welcoming and eager to get to know me. It feels good to be welcomed into the fold and it’s been a lot of fun,” said Meisner.
Meisner also credits the resources that the area provides to their patients. She believes that the Coweta area is a great environment for their patients, of which according to Meisner, 70 percent come from outside of Georgia.
“We’re truly a destination care center. So we were very deliberate about where we wanted to place our hospital. Many of our patients live in smaller towns like Newnan. So I think to have a small, friendly and easily accessible community with amenities that are close really makes it work,” said Meisner.
“We initially were evaluating three different locations before we built,” said Meisner. “We had taken a group of patients to visit three prospective communities and, in the end, Newnan registered the highest with our group,” said Meisner.
The CTCA currently hosts a comprehensive guest services department that is oriented around meeting the needs of patients and their family members. Meisner believes that because many patients come to the CTCA for extended periods of time, it’s important to determine how to engage them socially.
“We want to provide something for them to do when they’re not in treatment,” said Meisner. “We’ve asked the local community to help us find these diversions and entertainment in order to help keep our clients socialized, because who wants to sit around a hospital for weeks on end?”
Meisner believes that understanding the patient on every possible level is core to their treatment. This system known as “Patient Empowered Care” is founded in learning what's important to the patient and tailoring their treatment, as well as their interests, in order to best serve them.
“It creates a different kind of dynamic,” said Meisner. “They feel more engaged and in control. Patients want to come here, so we become the second community and family to them. It’s not about coming here for standard cancer treatment because they can get that in their own backyard. We focus on understanding the patient on a more human level.”
Meisner’s personal business philosophy is based in a “team-oriented” dynamic.
“I see myself as someone who facilitates,” said Meisner. “The CTCA is team-centered. It’s clearly too big of a job for any one person. We all have our unique gifts and our areas of expertise, so I feel like it’s my job to create an environment for all of them to excel in.”
“People feel like they can do what they went to school for or do what’s important to them and work in a structured environment that plays out on a day-to-day basis. Regardless of their job — limo driver, doctor or nurse, I want to create an environment for them to realize their full potential,” she said.
Growth is clearly the CTCA’s biggest story at the moment. The center is currently under way on a major expansion that includes additions to inpatient, outpatient clinic, radiation and surgery units. This phase of the hospital expansion is scheduled for completion by September 2014. “We came to Georgia to serve patients and their families, and to serve the community. And we remain focused on those goals,” said Meisner. “There are several reasons for this demand. We’re drawing top-notch clinical talent; expanding our specialty lines and programs like gynecologic oncology and interventional pulmonology; and delivering comprehensive, personalized care under one roof. Most importantly, we continuously listen to patients and their families so we can deliver care based on what they value.”
“We’ve assembled one of the finest medical teams in our system. We have highly trained, highly specialized medical talent and we surrounded them with wonderful nurses, technicians and support staff,” said Meisner. “We started out with 178 members and now we’re up to 570. That was the promise for the five-year plan and we’ve done that in just one year.”
Meisner attributes that to the overwhelming demand for what CTCA does. Patients come from not only the state of Georgia but from 37 other states — some as far away as Alaska and Hawaii.
“Some of them come because we have an integrative model which means we integrate some of the other modalities like nutrition, naturopathic medicine, mind and body programs which is important for many of our clients,” said Meisner.
So, after being in Newnan for one year, what does Meisner feel the most proud about?
“For me, it’s about the fact that this team has pulled together,” said Meisner. “In a lot of organizations, growth like this can be disruptive. In spite of that, we’ve had great success and feedback in terms of loyalty.”
Miesner cites that more than 95 percent of their patients say they would recommend them to friends and family. They were also ranked second in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Metro Atlanta’s Top 100 Workplaces” for a mid-size company with 150 to 499 employees in the region.
“It’s a quantifiable sign that we have a great culture here. I think patients are receiving excellent medical care,” said Meisner. “We’re helping patients improve not only their length of life but their quality of life as well. There is a lot of pride here.”
“I’ve been with CTCA over 20 years. This is just a new chapter for me,” said Meisner.