New CEO believes supporting community is one of hospital’s most important goals
Story and Photos by David Blanchette
Trevor Huffman has been the CEO of Jacksonville Memorial Hospital since February. He hopes the way he was able to work his way up through the ranks at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital can serve as an inspiration for others.
“Everybody has hills and valleys in their career,” Huffman said. “My message is stick with it, you’ll get through this.”
Huffman, a physical therapist, came to Jacksonville in 1998 from southern Missouri to start a sports medicine program for the hospital. His career has since been one of gradual advancement, and as of earlier this year, Huffman has been the CEO of Jacksonville Memorial Hospital.
“I was very surprised when they asked me. When I started here 25 years ago I hadn’t thought about being a CEO,” the 51-year-old Huffman said. “But the more I learned about the administrative, management and finance side of the hospital, I became more interested. I felt like I was getting pulled and called to do more with that.”
Huffman first came to Jacksonville to start an outreach sports medicine program at area high schools, a job that he said gave him an appreciation for local people and communities. That appreciation was bolstered through his wife, Monica, a Greenfield native who is also a physical therapist and whose father was a longtime area physician.
After a few years coordinating the sports medicine program, Huffman was asked if he wanted to become the Director of Rehabilitation Services at what was then called Passavant Area Hospital. The position was a natural fit for a physical therapist and athletic trainer, and Huffman worked in that capacity for nearly 20 years.
“We had nine employees when I started, and we grew to almost 70 employees in several different locations,” Huffman said. “By that time I was doing more management and administrative duties.”
When Dr. Scott Boston became the hospital CEO, he asked Huffman to become the Director of Ambulatory Services, which put him over the hospital’s outpatient and ancillary services such as laboratories or imaging, and specialty areas like the wound and pain clinics.
All of Huffman’s training up to that point had been as a clinician, and since he seemed to be heading up the administrative ladder, Huffman took continuing education classes for several years through the University of Missouri to achieve his Executive MBA in 2020.
“During that MBA training I started to think, would I like to be a CEO,” Huffman said. “I didn’t think at that time that it would necessarily happen, but I very much appreciate that it did.”
When Boston resigned as CEO, the hospital’s board asked Huffman if he was interested in the CEO position. He officially started as CEO in February.
“The first thing I did was learn. I read everything I could get my hands on,” Huffman said. “I was in administration but I always tried to maintain that outpatient, ambulatory mindset. I didn’t cross paths too much with the inpatient or ER side, so I started to really pay attention to those areas.”
Huffman also had to learn to deal directly with the hospital’s board of directors.
“I had the opportunity to watch Dr. Boston for a couple of months and see how he interacted with the board so I could continue some of the successes he was having,” Huffman said.
Huffman was immediately faced with implementing the hospital’s new medical records system that, he said, “completely changed just about every aspect of our hospital, how we document, schedule and bill patients. That was a huge focus my first few weeks as CEO and will remain an ongoing process.”
Staffing issues are also at the top of Huffman’s concerns list. The COVID-19 pandemic showed him that a limited workforce causes unnecessary delays for patients. Huffman looks to places like Illinois College’s new nursing program, plus positive interactions with area high school students, to encourage more people to enter the Jacksonville area health services profession.
“During COVID, we were very reactive. We were just trying to meet needs and survive,” Huffman said. “Now we can be more strategic. We can look at needs in the community, like wait times for CT scans or MRIs or to get into therapy.”
“Our drive-through lab during COVID was a huge hit, but due to staffing concerns we had to close that down,” Huffman said. “We hope to get that open again.”
Huffman feels that Jacksonville Memorial Hospital derives much of its support from the communities that it serves, and working in tandem with the hospital’s foundation and auxiliary, he hopes to continually improve that hospital-community relationship.
“A community hospital like ours is just as strong as our community is,” Huffman said. “The stronger we are tied to the community, how much we support the community and the community supports us, that determines our strength.”
“My greatest pleasure is knowing that we provide great care based on what the community needs,” Huffman said. “I’m trying to get out into the community more now that I have that CEO presence, and when I hear that we have provided great care to someone’s family member that gives me the greatest pleasure.”
Another source of pleasure for Huffman is seeing staff members grow, gaining new skills as they find a home at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital.
Huffman’s wife, Monica, started at the hospital the same time as her husband and continues to work there as a physical therapist and athletic trainer. The couple have five children, all of whom attended Routt Catholic High School (with one still enrolled there), and three of their children are studying for careers in the medical and veterinary fields.
Huffman spends his rare free time at his small farm near Woodson, raising cattle and growing a small amount of crops on some tillable ground. He and Monica also attend as many of their children’s high school and college events as they can.
Huffman hopes that many more young people will decide to pursue health care careers like he did. He encourages youth to check out health care system opportunities during career days and, if interested, to get to know health care professionals and ask them what the job is like. Just don’t do it for the money, he said.
“Make sure this is what you want to do and why you want to do it,” Huffman said. “A lot of times you choose a career based on the salary, but then you will never make enough money — you’re always looking for more. You’ve got to look at something you know you are passionate about and work toward that passion.”