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Winchester Hospital New President Visits the Jenks

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By Joyce Westner

 July 28, 2023.  Al Campbell introduced himself to Winchester seniors on Wednesday at the Jenks Center by telling stories about his mother’s influence on his career choices.  Born in Guyana, Campbell’s family moved to the US when he was nine, and his mother worked as a nurse in a Plainfield NJ hospital.  She made him volunteer in their oncology unit when he was 14, which he didn’t want to do, but “I fell in love with hospitals,” he said. 

“My whole family is either doctors or nurses,” said Campbell, and he was hoping to go into cardiology until his senior year at Norfolk State College.  Faced with taking the medical college admission test, he realized his testing anxiety would get the better of him, but he still had his mother to deal with.  “Mom said if not medical school, then go to nursing school,” he told the audience.  And he did.

Having worked as a paramedic while at college, Campbell got experience in all kinds of medical situations and he eventually became a medical surgery nurse, a cardiac nurse, and an emergency room nurse.  Eventually he earned an MBA and became a director of nursing.  “And at 27 years old,” he said, “I realized I wanted to run a hospital.”

That was the beginning of his relocating to various cities around the country, and he was most recently the chief operating officer of a St. Louis MO regional hospital until coming to Winchester in May.  Campbell was eager to share several facts that some audience members hadn’t been aware of, including that Winchester Hospital runs urgent care facilities in Woburn and Wilmington.  “And we’re the only hospital in the area with a pediatric emergency room, staffed by Children’s Hospital doctors,” he said. 

Proud of the hospital’s Safety Grade A rating, Campbell said he’ll continue to work towards staffing appropriately despite a shortage of medical professionals who want to work for hospitals.  And he’s looking to increase diversity at the hospital, saying he wants to “change up the vibe.” 

Coming next February is a new program called “Hospital at Home,” a national initiative to treat patients needing acute care in the safety and comfort of their own home.  “Patients may have a procedure at the hospital,” said Campbell, and then have care providers visit them at home. 

Asked if Medicare reimbursement is a problem, Campbell said, “it’s all payers [who are the problem] and they change their rules from month to month.”  Campbell still works once a month as a nurse and recently was in a unit with nurses who trained during Covid and had limited clinical experience.  “We have to invest in nurses, it’s a challenge.” 

Asked about the future with Lahey, he said they have a strategic road map but “Lahey won’t open a delivery room, and they’ll still be the regional trauma center, not us.”


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