New Edge Regional CFO found

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 6, 2000

Pike County the ‘perfect pasture’


Features Editor

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Denise Smith came to Troy because here she has room to flap her wings and, if she can find the perfect pasture on which to roost, that will make her move a dream opportunity.

Many times Smith and her husband, George, had driven past Edge Regional Medical Center (ERMC) on their way from Tennessee to visit their daughter, who is a graduate student in archeology at Florida State University.

Each time she remarked, "There’s one of our (Community Health Systems) hospitals," never dreaming she would one day be employed there.

Smith is the new chief financial officer (CFO) at ERMC and she comes to Troy from Community Hospital Systems (CHS) revenue management department in Brookwood, Tenn.

She has worked in healthcare since 1987 with seven years of experience in rural health facilities. She has served as the CFO at a rural health facility in Tennessee and two rural health facilities in North Carolina.

Prior to coming to ERMC, Smith had been primarily responsible for five to 10 rural facilities’ reimbursement and accounting programs with CHS for one and half years.

As much as she liked the work she was doing at Brookwood, Smith longed to be more involved with people again.

"I like accounting but I love people," she said. "I wanted to talk to patients and their families who needed an ear. I wanted to be involved with the nurses so that I will know better what it is that we do. I was looking for a hospital where I could be more involved with people."

Smith had worked with Rusty Eldridge, the newly appointed CEO of ERMC, and he was aware of her desire to get back in a hospital.

"Rusty came to me and said, ‘What about Edge Regional Medical Center,’ and it didn’t take me long to

think about it," Smith said.

She didn’t have to come and check out the hospital or the town. The hospital had a good reputation among CHS’s 54 medical centers and she knew, first hand, that Pike County is a beautiful place.

"This area is so pretty with its horse and cow farms and landscapes," Smith said. "The only thing that could make it better is if it were on the beach – and it’s actually not that far. Troy was the ideal place for us."

Smith grew up in a small town in North Carolina. She was actually born on the college campus where she received an accounting degree a couple of decades later.

"The clinic was on campus and that’s where I was born," Smith said laughing. "I was in college for a long time."

Coming to Troy is almost like a homecoming for Smith.

It’s a small town with a college atmosphere and surrounded by rural areas in which to search for the perfect pasture to put down roots.

Her position at the hospital gives her the opportunity to be a community relations person.

She will be involved with the patients, their families and the staff.

"That way I will be able to look around me and to see what the needs of the community are and how we can meet those needs and have a better vision for what can be," Smith said. "My job will be to make the hospital as cost effective as possible while providing the best care possible."

When she’s not at work, Smith enjoys horses, photography, painting and reading.

"I also like to do something that is worthwhile and meaningful," she said. "I have been a mentor and I would welcome the opportunity to work with children on a volunteer basis. I am also looking forward to being a grandmother. My son and his wife are expecting our first grandchild in the fall and I’m very excited about that."

The Smiths are looking forward to being a part of the Pike County community and have already found the people to be warm and friendly – "just like you would expect from a small Southern community."