Adams Health Network CEO Receives Outstanding Critical Access Leadership Award

Scott T. Smith, MD, MBA

Dr. Scott Smith, CEO and Medical Director of Adams Health Network has received the “Outstanding Critical Access Leadership Award”. The leadership nomination was submitted by the Adams Health Network team. This distinguished honor comes from the Indiana Rural Health Association, which includes ​35 other critical access hospitals in the state of Indiana.  The Indiana Rural Health Association (IRHA) was organized in 1997. Their mission is working to improve the health of all Hoosiers in rural settings and to enhance the health and well-being of rural populations in Indiana through leadership, education, advocacy, collaboration, and resource development.

The criteria in order to receive this award include demonstration of exemplary leadership by promoting quality healthcare, impact of others within the organization, empowerment of others to make change, and demonstration of integrity in actions and work.

Dr. Smith’s nomination application definitely had a recurring theme from the AHN team and board of directors, which is that Dr. Smith leads by example, and always with compassion, integrity and respect. A few excerpts from the nomination letter are as follows:

“Dr. Smith became our CEO in January of 2020. He stepped up to lead a critical access, rural health organization just as the world was heading into the pandemic. He knew immediately that in order to survive as one of two independent Critical Access Hospitals in northeast Indiana, a few changes were needed.  Dr. Smith restructured Adams Health Network with the goal of delivering excellent, compassionate care, while remaining a resource to our community. Dr. Smith immediately partnered with the Adams County Health Department, opening the first Covid testing site in Adams County. Additionally, he supported the County by staffing the testing site with Adams personnel. He worked closely with the government officials to understand where the need was the greatest and found ways to provide care and support to our community. Dr. Smith also worked to establish the area’s only monoclonal antibody infusion center and eventually opened the county’s first vaccine site. At his direction, our EMS team was delivering Covid vaccine to the housebound within our community, more than a year before Adams began the community paramedicine program. Within months of his accession to CEO, Dr. Smith found himself battling for so much more than the obvious, including resources, supplies, and most importantly an engaged leadership team and workforce. Despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic, Dr. Smith stepped up fearlessly. He focused on the physical needs of our hospital and our community, but he also seized every opportunity to improve the work culture and patient care at Adams, often by jumping in working side-by-side with the team. It was hard to imagine that he had only started his position as CEO in January of 2020. He led the organization like someone who had been the CEO for years.”

“As far as impact, just months after Covid began, Dr. Smith worked with his leaders to restructure staff pay and benefit programs, offering us ways to keep our teams intact. He led by example, always present, and always taking action to help at every level of our organization. He showed us how powerful a generous heart and unfailing trust can be. When times were the most tense and frightening, he led with kindness, understanding, and when most needed, a little bit of wry humor. Dr. Smith made it a priority to be concerned about co-workers’ families. He worked to find programs that insured our teams were able to keep that precious balance between work and family, even when the pandemic was at its worst. As a result, he maintained his best performing team members, ensuring that the patients and families in Adams County received the finest care available.”

“Dr. Smith has empowered each of us to want to be better, to work smarter, and to provide better care. He is fearless in his belief of paying it forward. He reminds each of us how important it is to treat each other with kindness and respect. Dr. Smith has given us the courage to seek and achieve change. His decisions also consistently promote growth and new technology for our organization and improved access to healthcare for our community. This is demonstrated by the fact that Adams added five new physicians in August of 2023 including a new surgeon, and ER physician, and three family medicine physicians. In addition, Adams is in the process of building a new clinic in Geneva, which will include primary care, lab, radiology, and rehabilitation services. In regard to technology, a new da Vinci robot is now part of our surgery department and will improve patient outcomes in many ways. He is supporting us to continually work to make Adams a better place to seek and give care, and in the process has championed shared governance and use of best practices at every level.”

“He has fostered a work environment where everyone works together to solve problems. Each weekday morning there is an operational huddle where all managers and supervisors within the organization come together and discuss where we are as an organization and what departments have needs for that day and the coming days, thus allowing everyone to be a part of the happenings within the organization and to provide seamless and excellent care to all patients.”

 “In regard to integrity, Dr. Smith is thoughtful about the decisions that are made and the change he asks for. He is a transparent leader. He is always professional, respectful, and kind. He has created a culture of organizational accountability and is always willing to be responsible and accountable to the many of us that work for him. Dr. Smith looks for the human factors in decision-making. As Adams celebrates its 100th year of service, Dr. Smith asked that we celebrate by committing the time and resources by performing 100 service projects in our community. These range from feeding the hungry, to providing home repairs to those who cannot manage it. You will frequently find him at the center of many of these projects, working alongside the team he has built. You should also expect that if Dr. Smith asks you to do something challenging or difficult, he will most likely be there beside you, supporting your efforts. He sees beyond the politics, the drama and the angst in situations to get to the matter of the people and the situation at heart. His decisions are motivated by kindness and intelligence. We are always aware of our mission at Adams, “to serve with excellence, and provide compassionate care”, because we see this man do this, every single day. He always reminds us to strive to fulfill our vision of remaining independent and being the trusted healthcare provider for our community.”

It is not only the AHN team that recognizes Dr. Smith’s integrity, but our board of trustees as well. Russ Flueckiger, President of the Adams Health Network Board of Trustees stated, “We are very fortunate to have such an outstanding and dynamic CEO as is Dr. Smith. What a pleasure it is to work with him. Dr. Smith is a man of integrity and vision and leads by example. I could not imagine a better CEO than Dr. Smith.” 

The Indiana Rural Health Association will be at Adams Memorial Hospital on Monday, September 11th at 2pm in the Adams Memorial Hospital lobby to present the “Outstanding Critical Access Leadership Award” to Dr. Smith. The community is invited to attend this special presentation…what a perfect way to continue to celebrate Adams Memorial Hospital’s 100th Anniversary. 

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