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Q&A with Billy Hayes, CEO of Northside Hospital Cherokee

January 31, 2017
Billy Hayes
From the January 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
HealthCare Business News recently interviewed Billy Hayes to find out more about his background and the soon-to-be-opened new Northside Hospital Cherokee.

HCB News: What inspired you to get involved in health care?
When I was first starting out in my career, I never envisioned myself entering the realm of health care. My background and education were firmly planted in accounting. However, after spending a few years in accounting positions in other industries, and a bit of arm-twisting from my mother and sister, who both work in health care, I finally decided to give it a chance. And I haven’t looked back since.

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HCB News: How long has the process taken to open the new facility?
I have been at Northside Hospital Cherokee for 12 years, and since my arrival we’ve been working toward this goal. Actual planning has taken four years. We started by addressing accessibility needs, working with the State DOT to build a four-lane highway that connected I-575 to the new site location. Once the road was complete, we laid the groundwork for the infrastructure and site work. Construction of the replacement facility began in March 2015, and we are on schedule for a [May] 2017 opening date.

HCB News: What was the impetus behind opening the new facility?
Cherokee County is one of Georgia’s five fastest growing counties by population. The original Cherokee Hospital facility was opened over 50 years ago in 1962, and is undersized in terms of its ability to meet the population’s future needs.

HCB News: What were the biggest challenges you faced to get the facility built?
There were, and still are, many challenges in constructing a replacement hospital, especially when you consider the build began in the midst of a recession. Understanding your community needs, knowing the right time to start, staying within budget, preparing for potential government actions and anticipating economic recovery are just a few of the daily concerns the team and myself faced during the process.

HCB News: Are there any unique features about the hospital’s campus?
Building a hospital from the ground up has given Northside staff the opportunity to think about efficient floor plans and layouts, accessibility from major roadways and space to grow, if needed, and aesthetic ideas borrowed from hotels for a more comfortable patient experience. Three features are important to note in those respects:

• Wayfinding will also be much easier than in traditional hospitals. The recurrent design of nurse stations as the “anchor,” along with visual color cues, will assist with departmental and floor changes.

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