Ending an era: Riverview Health CEO, President Pat Fox announces retirement

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By Sadie Hunter

Riverview Health’s roots date back to 1909 in Noblesville. The hospital on the Riverview Health campus along Westfield Road near the White River officially opened in May 1951, and now, nearly 55 years later, has grown to be a full-service healthcare organization, more than a decade (since 2004) of which has been led by President and CEO Pat Fox.

Fox announced her retirement Dec. 28, which will end her 45-year career in the healthcare field.

Born and reared in Chicago, Fox says she started small.

“I started out as a nurse aid in a little, county hospital. I went to nursing school, and I’m still licensed as an RN,” she said. “I worked as a staff nurse up until 1985 when my husband was transferred here. I was hired at Wishard (Hospital, now Eskenazi Hospital), started out as a manager and left as their vice president. I was recruited here as chief operating officer in the fall of 2000. The CEO that had been here for 16 years retired, so I kind of followed.”

Riverview Health’s quick and steady growth over the years has occurred in time with Fox’s leading role at the organization, in which she’s been an integral part.

“You know, when I started, Riverview was considered a small-town hospital,” she said. “Since I’ve been here, from a facilities standpoint, we’ve built the Women’s Pavilion. We’ve built a new emergency room. We’ve renovated almost every department in the hospital – med surg, radiology, the cardiology suites – so physically, we’ve changed a lot.”

Fox said when she started in 2000, there were six physicians working outside the hospital in offices around the county. Now, Riverview operates 55 facilities, 25 of which are nursing homes scattered all over the state.

“So 55 office locations, which is really why we rebranded ourselves Riverview Health, because we are much more of an outpatient care system than we are a hospital,” Fox said.

Fox said she believes it was Riverview’s start of its open-heart program in 2002 that spurred the amount of growth Noblesville and Hamilton and Tipton Counties see today.

“It took a lot of coordination and really elevated the awareness of the hospital and its capabilities,” Fox said. So from that point on, we really have successfully had great clinical programs. I think we’re really well respected in the community.”

But overall, when looking back at her time at Riverview, Fox said, as a health organization, it’s the partnerships with the community that makes her most proud.

Under her leadership, Riverview Health has partnered with school districts in Noblesville and Westfield to help provide playground equipment, offer health services to employees and employ nurses within the schools and doctors for athletic teams. At the county level, the organization provides health services to county employees. Other partnerships include Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton Co., Noblesville Main Street, various chambers of commerce within the county, Hamilton Co. Economic Development Corporation’s Invest in Hamilton County initiative and more.

“Our responsibility really is to partner with those community agencies,” she said.

Though she won’t be retiring until at least May, Fox says she will continue to lead initiatives in which she is already involved, two of which include the implementation of two outpatient care facilities – one in Westfield at U.S. 31 and Ind. 32 and the other at the main campus on Westfield Road in Noblesville.

“(My retirement date) really is contingent upon when they find my successor. We have engaged B.E. Smith to do an external search. It’s important to me that we find the right person to lead this organization,” she said. “There’s a lot of work that we’re doing in building new facilities outside the hospital, so (the May retirement) helps me get those projects far enough along before turning the keys over to someone else.”

After retiring, Fox said she has ideas about what she wants to do with her time but doesn’t plan on leaving Noblesville.

“I’ll continue to serve on boards where it’s appropriate for me to,” Fox said. “I’m a marathoner, and I started running the same year that I took this job. I had never run before in my life. I ran Boston Marathon last year, so it’s kind of like that’s what I’ve worked all those years for, to do that. I’ve hit my peak there, and I’ve hit my peak here. So, (retirement) will allow me to continue to run. My husband’s been retired for three years. We have plans to travel and do things like that, but we’ve just building a new home in Noblesville, so we plan to stay in this community and be as involved as we can.”

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

John Ditslear, City of Noblesville mayor

“Pat has been an active member of Vision Noblesville and other organizations to improve the community. She has made health care in Noblesville and Hamilton County better through her leadership and expansion of Riverview Health. I wish her the best in her future endeavors.”

Greg Murray, Riverview Health Board of Trustees chairman

“Pat Fox has had a tremendous impact on Riverview Health, courageously leading us through many transitions in healthcare over the last two decades. We’re thankful for her countless contributions to our organization, and we’re proud of her distinguished tenure as president and CEO.”

 

Chris Owens, Noblesville Main Street executive director

“Pat Fox and Riverview Health have been supporters of Noblesville Main Street and our mission for several years as well as wonderful hosts for our Farmers Market. Pat’s consistent vision and leadership by example have shaped health care in our county and undoubtedly left the organization in a position for continued growth. We’ve seen Pat at our Farmers Market and events for years and hope this will continue in the future. Additionally, Pat was instrumental in helping to keep our Music & All That Jazz series as a vibrant feature of downtown. On behalf of our Executive Committee and Board of Directors, we wish Pat all the best.”

More about Pat Fox

Community involvement: The Cherish Center, board member; Noblesville Youth Assistance Program, chair; Prevail, Inc., past board member; Westfield Chamber of Commerce, board member.

Family: Married, two grown children, two grandsons (ages 11 and 13), married

Education: “I went to nursing school (in Chicago) at St. Mary’s on the north side of Chicago. Then I go my bachelor’s in Public Health Administration from (Indiana University) and my master’s from St. Francis in Illinois.”


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