Hospital's first chief medical officer hopes to improve communication

Dr. Richard Patterson recently joined the staff at Piedmont Medical Center as the hospital's first chief medical officer.

Patterson, 59, comes to Rock Hill after a career as a surgeon at Baptist Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and as chief surgical resident at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Piedmont Medical Center CEO Charlie Miller said Patterson's arrival will bring another dimension to the hospital's administration. Miller said Patterson can provide hospital leaders "day-to-day access to the physician's perspective on health care." Patterson will be responsible for improving communication between administrators and physicians and to oversee the medical operations of the hospital.

The Herald recently met with Patterson to learn more about what he brings to the Piedmont medical community. Here's what he had to say:

Q. What is the focus of your role with Piedmont?

The basis of my job is communication. Everyone comes to the hospital with the best of intentions -- to provide the best possible care. But we all have different backgrounds that can lead to language barriers in some ways. Since I've been involved with both sectors, clinicals and administration, I'm almost like an interpreter, helping each party to understand the other. And that's something we have to do to better serve our patients.

Q. How does Piedmont fit in Charlotte's competitive health-care market?

This is a full-service hospital, and it's one people should be proud of. Piedmont serves an area that's growing by double-digits. I'm convinced that if a city is to be a real city it needs its own hospital. If you're going to be a real place with a chance to grow, and not just a bedroom community, you need a full-service hospital. ... I think the competition here is exciting. You want a lot of players. Just like football -- you can't have a division with only one team in it. It's important for people to have plenty of choices. But our intention is for Piedmont to be people's first choice.

Q. Why switch from surgery to administration?

I wanted to go as far as I could as a surgeon, but at some point I wanted to care for larger groups of people, and that's what hospital administration is about. I'm excited about this chance, and I'm excited about the future of health care.