George Von Mock

Leading with transparency

August 19, 2022
by John W. Mitchell, Senior Correspondent
Hansen Family Hospital, an affiliate of MercyOne in Iowa Falls, announced George Von Mock had been named chief executive officer at the end of 2021. He provides the hospital with more than 20 years of healthcare leadership experience, most recently serving as the hospital’s interim CEO since July 2021, and chief financial officer for two years prior to that. Before coming to Hansen Family Hospital he served as director of finance for MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center

Hansen Family Hospital is managed through an affiliation agreement with MercyOne. The management agreement provides a variety of services, including working with the board of trustees to provide administrative support and additional resources at the hospital’s request.

MercyOne’s clinics, medical centers, hospitals and affiliates are located throughout the state of Iowa and beyond. Headquartered in central Iowa, MercyOne was founded in 1998 through a collaboration between CommonSpirit Health and Trinity Health — two of the country’s foremost, not-for-profit Catholic health organizations.

In order to get a better understanding of George Von Mock’s background, what he brings to his new permanent position at Hansen Family Hospital, and makes the community he is serving special, HealthCare Business News sat down with him for the following Q&A.

HCB News: Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in healthcare?
George Von Mock: I was looking for a job out of college, of course. I wanted a career that was interesting since we all spend a lot of our life at work. Healthcare has been very rewarding. I started the financial side and now, as CEO, I have the privilege of working with the clinical staff every day. It feels like the right place to be. I was influenced by the first CFO I reported to. He taught me to always be respectful and to explain the why and when to others about running a hospital. I’m also inspired by the people who lay hands on patients; they make me want to be supportive and help them any way I can. It's such a different, inspiring culture in healthcare. I enjoy helping people get well.

HCB News: Can you tell us what your career has been like up to this point?
GVM: I’ve been in healthcare over 30 years, I started right out of school into finance. Up to this point it’s been a good experience, I’m very happy. It requires patience in a leadership role. I've learned a lot over the years and utilize that education to support our team of incredibly knowledgeable clinicians in providing a personalized care experience for every patient. I enjoy being part of the solution, learning how the financial side of operations fits in with the clinical side.

HCB News: What initially drew you to Hansen Family Hospital?
GVM: I was looking for a CFO opportunity, I had previously been a director of finance. Our kids were finishing up school, so it was a good time to look for a hospital that needed me where I could contribute to the mission. My wife and I like small towns and we’ve always lived in small towns when possible. I connected well with the CEO at that time, he expressed a good vision about the future of the hospital. During my interviews, I noticed that many of the department leaders had been here for a long time and their faces lit up when they talked about their experience at the hospital. My interest was always to continue in healthcare administration so when I joined the Hansen Family Hospital team, my years of experience was beneficial when working with the former CEO to create a succession path. As part of the senior management team, it was helpful for the hospital to have a plan in place to work through such leadership transitions when the time came for him to retire.

HCB News: How would you describe the leadership style of the organization?
GVM: Transparent. As leaders, it's important take feedback, exchange ideas, share results, and communicate short and long-term plans. Transparency and accountability are important for building a culture of trust so we can focus on our main objective: creating a patient care experience based on our mission and values. Continuous communication is key to maintaining that culture of trust so colleagues are aware of what is going on within the organization and are able to contribute and provide feedback to leaders. I regularly make rounds to departments to understand how the different areas of the hospital operate. It gives me a one-on-one opportunity to speak with the staff and understand how I can support them.

HCB News: What are the patient demographics that you're serving?
GVM: We have an older population; our payer mix is 50% Medicare. We also a have population of Vietnam and Gulf War veterans and some Hispanic population. Our population mix is pretty typical for a rural community.

HCB News: Are there any special projects or initiatives you are undertaking or planning to undertake?
GVM: We have a couple of renovation projects in progress. First there is an ED department renovation. Ours is an eight-year-old building, so we’ve got some experience thinking about colleague, patient, and visitor safety. We get a lot of behavioral health patients into the ER so we’re putting some safety changes in place. The same with a better infectious control layout, that was big lesson from the pandemic. We’re also using former administrative space at the front of the building to create a better infectious control patient flow. We recently outsourced billing, so that space is being converted to clinical use. While we’ve seen our Covid positivity rate decline, experience tells us that it can rise again. We want to be better prepared with patient flow if it happens again. Our clinical teams are very excited about these projects.

HCB News: What kind of advantages come with being a member of the MercyOne health system?
GVM: The short answer is: many. It would be pretty challenging to be a critical access hospital on our own in today’s environment. MercyOne provides expertise in contracting, supply chain, and recruiting that we couldn’t afford as a stand-alone. We get really good value from the relationship. They’re available 365 days a year. I especially would be worried about IT support for cybersecurity to protect patient information from hackers. That could keep me up at night if we had to figure it out on our own. Their contract resource supports our continuum of care very well. This helps us be more financially viable to provide the services our community needs and wants.

HCB News: When did you take on your new role, and has anything surprised you?
GVM: I became CEO permanently a year ago November, and was appointed interim in July. Not really any surprises, I had a lot of interaction with staff as CFO. But as CEO, ultimately, I’m responsible at the end of the day because the buck stops at my desk. Our hospital has a fantastic team, which makes the difference and helps us be successful. It’s been a good transition.

HCB News: Do you see the pandemic altering care delivery in any fundamental, long-term ways?
GVM: It certainly did. The pandemic accelerated the shortage of workers and increased supply costs. I don’t see labor and the supply chain going back to the way it was. We lost staff mostly to retirement. Many of them had been here 20 plus years and others were just starting in healthcare when the pandemic started. With the high stress and uncertainty that came with the pandemic, many of them decided to leave the field or retire. I understand that.

HCB News: What is one of the most important lessons you’ve learned in your career?
GVM: It’s very important to be self-aware. A leader must be open-minded and take calculated risk. Without calculated risk, there is no innovation. It’s important to create a space for your team to sometimes fail in the name of innovation. The previous administrator did a fantastic job doing that. When that happens, our customers win. I also learned to be humble, too. When I first got here, we had Jeans Friday, but I didn’t wear jeans. But I got called out by an employee who said: “Why aren’t you wearing jeans. You’re one of us, right?” I learned that you want staff to be honest with you. That kind of culture is very helpful when we are giving candidates a tour, whom we’d want to recruit. They can sense that we’re all engaged and want to also have fun at work.