COZAD — Speak with Lyle Davis and his pride in Cozad and desire providing quality healthcare for his community is immediately evident. Davis has served as the administrator of Cozad Community Health System for the past 27 years.
Davis said ever since he was in high school he wanted to be involved in healthcare, but initially got his start in business and graduated from Chadron State College.
The desire to work in healthcare never faded and in January 1983 he entered the field at a hospital in Valentine. From here he moved to Atkinson and finally to Cozad. Davis said it was a move to a larger hospital than he had been at previous.
In August 1992, he became the administrator of Cozad Community Health Systems, a position he has held for 27 years.
Davis said there have been “so many changes,” to healthcare during his tenure in Cozad, some of these reflect larger societal changes.
He said in the past people used to be much more appreciative of the care they received but now this has shifted, the public has become much more demanding, especially when it comes to health care.
Yet in the midst of these changes and shifts, Davis’ focus on providing quality care for everyone who walks in the door has not changed.
He pointed to the words on the wall under the Cozad Community Health System’s logo, “Courteous, Compassion, Helpful and Sincere,” were listed. To Davis these are the hospital’s watch words, by which they hold themselves to in every interaction.
“I like to think everyone who comes here is asking for some type of help,” Davis said, “We need to stay focused on and prepared to help them the best we can, even if it is a phone call.”
One challenge Davis has faced as the hospital administrator has been the lack of workforce, a problem not only effecting Cozad or healthcare.
Davis said along with finding people who shares the hospital values, he wanted to inspire people in Cozad itself to become involved in the hospital and feel like they were a part of it.
When asked about accomplishments he was proud of during his time as administrator, Davis said, “I didn’t do anything by myself.” He added there have been numerous people who have helped to guide and inspire him along the way to do what was best.
Davis said he did not focus on what every other hospital was doing, but on what Cozad needed, he said if it was a need for Cozad, then it became the right focus for Cozad Community Health System.
Davis was modest in his own appraisal but said Cozad Health itself has accomplished much over the years, including combining their clinics, building their free standing physical therapy building, getting all of their providers under a new roof and expanding Meadowlark Pointe to accommodate more assisted care and memory care spaces.
When asked about people he would like to recognize and thank, Davis said, “If I started listing them all, where would I stop.” He did mention the support of the management team, the opportunities from the board and thanks to all of the physicians he has worked with over the years.
“A lot of friendships were made which are very dear to me,” Davis said.
Davis is stepping away from the administrator position due to complications with his eyesight but his successor has already stepped into the position.
Danni Gearheart assumed the position on Monday, Jan. 6 and Davis has been helping her during the transition period. Gearheart is a veteran administrator for hospitals across the Midwest.
When asked about his plans after leaving the position, he said he is, “going to take a step back and see what happens.”
Yet Davis foresees himself still being active within Cozad, “I tell people Cozad is the best kept secret in Dawson County,” he said, “Cozad has been so good to me and my family. It is unbelievable.”
A celebration honoring Davis was held on Jan. 3 at the Cozad Elks Club and was hosted by Cozad Community Health System and the Cozad Hospital Foundation.
The space was packed with well-wishers with several speaking about Davis and his accomplishments.
TaraLea Davis said, “Lyle may not have been blessed with perfect eyesight, but he has extraordinary vision.”