Huntington Quarterly
SubscribeAdvertisingEditorial ContentBack Issues
E-mailLettersH.Q. PublishingLinks

In This Issue:

From the Editor

On Top of His Game

Kellogg Elementary

10 Best Dressed

 Last Laugh

On Top of His Game

Ask Genesis Hospital System CEO Tom Jones his secret to success and here’s what he will tell you: "Leave it better than you found it." His creed may seem simple, but to this successful businessman and respected civic leader, those are words to live by.

It would be easy to mistake J. Thomas Jones for something other than the Chief Executive Officer of Genesis Affiliated Health Services. His academic appearance and articulate, lucid speech suggest a professor of Romantic poetry or Greek tragedy. Talk to him and he listens deeply. Question him and he responds in answers that fly at you quickly like Hemingway sentences. His eyes lock on you as he shakes your hand and calls you by name, even before you’re sure you’ve introduced yourself. This man is on top of his game. And he’s ready to improve and expand health care throughout the region.

Jones is the engineer driving Genesis Hospital System, the affiliation of Cabell Huntington, St. Mary’s and Pleasant Valley hospitals. Under his guidance are 3,500 full-time employees and a medical staff of over 400 physicians that last year admitted 42,000 patients to the three hospitals. Over the next few years, Genesis will continue to grow by adding hospitals to the system, increasing employees, admissions and outpatients visits.

The past few months have been busy for Jones and his staff at Genesis. They’ve moved into new offices in the Marshall University medical school at Cabell Huntington Hospital. Jones is moving the organization forward.

Currently, Genesis is negotiating with Logan General Hospital to help them recover from bankruptcy. "There’s a commitment on their part to join Genesis as a full and equal partner once they emerge from bankruptcy. Once we accomplish that, it will be a significant expansion of the Genesis system," Jones says.

Other improvements to the region’s health care include a new contract with Aetna Insurance at Pleasant Valley, a new cardiac lab at Cabell Huntington and the addition of two oral surgeons that will participate in the hospitals’ trauma programs. Genesis has facilitated an agreement between the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University and River Valley Health System in Ironton, Ohio, that is bringing physicians to Ironton for routine obstetrics and gynecological services.

Soon, patients will be able to buy durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, crutches and oxygen from St. Mary’s and Cabell Huntington. Genesis has also successfully recruited new Executive Directors for Cabell Huntington, Pleasant Valley and Logan General Hospitals. Cost saving projects include a new telephone service contract saving $1.2 million over three years, a new health insurance contract saving $389,000 annually and a purchasing program which will save Genesis hospitals $6.5 million over three years.

"Hopefully," Jones says, "Genesis will be up to five hospitals by the end of 2001…we are actively negotiating with one other hospital and having preliminary talks with several others. We’re well on our way to meeting our expansion goals."

Those goals include increasing the Genesis system to six or eight hospitals, reducing costs, bringing new services to the region and maintaining health care in rural areas. With St. Mary’s being voted one of the Top 100 cardiac care facilities in the country, and Cabell Huntington receiving a 98 out of a possible 100 on a recent Joint Commission survey, Genesis is expected to quickly become a premier regional health care system.

Genesis is the culmination of a long history of cooperation between St. Mary’s and Cabell Huntington Hospitals. Over the years, the two facilities collaborated on many projects, including the country’s first jointly designated Level II trauma center and the Tri-State MRI center. The two hospitals were also co-sponsors of the Tri-State Health Partners Physician Hospital Organization.

Both hospitals were involved in an effort to create a regional hospital system with hospitals in Charleston, Morgantown and Point Pleasant. Although that venture was not successful, Cabell Huntington and St. Mary’s wanted to continue working together. Soon, the Genesis Hospital System was born. With 934 licensed beds, Genesis has become the largest hospital system in West Virginia.

The need for Genesis Hospital System grew from the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, which cut $50 million from Genesis hospitals over the next five years. By joining together, the hospitals can pool their resources to preserve jobs and bring new medical services to the region.

But, Jones explains as he straightens the crease in his slacks, none of those goals could be obtained without the many people who work for Genesis.

"Someone told me early in my career not to forget the people that truly make your organization successful, whether it’s the person in the dietary department or the person that cleans your floors, or does your laundry, or the nurse or physician. They all show up everyday and do their jobs. They’re heroes. They’re quiet, behind the scenes heroes, but they do their job everyday. They make the world go around, and they don’t often get the recognition they deserve."

It’s that kind of understanding that has made Jones a successful businessman and an influential civic leader. He sits on numerous boards including the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, the Huntington — Ironton Empowerment Zone Board of Directors, the West Virginia Roundtable, the Huntington Area Development Council, and the Advantage Valley Board.

He’s been a past chairman and boardmember of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce, HADCO, a board member of the University System Board of Trustees, and the West Virginia State Ethics Commission.

In 1997, The Herald-Dispatch recognized Jones for his efforts by naming him the newspaper’s "Citizen of the Year." When he speaks of receiving the award, his face loosens into a boyish grin.

"Being recognized as the ‘Citizen of the Year’ was a tremendous honor. Anytime your hometown honors you and says ‘thanks for doing a good job,’ that just means a tremendous amount. That’s something I display with pride."

"The community is extremely fortunate, Jones is one of the most dedicated, hardworking, intelligent and devoted people in Huntington," insists A. Michael Perry, chairman of Bank One W.Va., NA. "I would be hardpressed to name someone else that could do what Tom Jones has for this region. From the numerous civic positions he has held to his current position as C.E.O. of Genesis, Tom is a classic example of how involved people make things happen."

Jones lives his life by a simple creed — always leave something better than you found it.

"Whether serving on a board or organization, or being the CEO of a hospital or organization such as Genesis, leave it better than you found it; put a little bit into it, and make it better before you walk away from it. I always view the glass as half full. Even when it’s empty it’s opportunity."

Born in Glendale, W.Va., Jones grew up in the Clarksburg/Morgantown areas. He attended West Virginia University as an undergraduate and received a Master’s Degree in Hospital Administration from the University of Minnesota. But he quickly returned to his native West Virginia, because that’s where he wanted to make a difference.

"West Virginia is a good place to live and raise a family…it’s not a huge state, and if you want to get involved you have that opportunity. I’ve been privileged to be involved on a number of things at the state level — serving on the state health care and state ethics commissions and the University Board of Trustees, and now on the Higher Education Policy Commission. These are wonderful opportunities to give back to your state."

For Jones, giving back to the state means striving for increased economic opportunity for everyone. His work with the Huntington Area Development Council (HADCO) brought many jobs to Huntington and the surrounding region.

Gerald McDonald, director of HADCO, has seen first hand the results of Jones’ leadership. "Tom was the chairman of our organization in the early days," McDonald said. "His hard work laid the foundation for much of the success that we have experienced recently including United Airlines and That kind of leadership takes a tremendous amount of vision."

Although the community has experienced an influx of new jobs, Jones isn’t satisfied. "When you see friends and neighbors that weren’t employed, or were under employed and now they are earning a better living, it is extremely gratifying. It’s a real plus to see that work impact your community. We need to get more people employed and improve the quality of life across the board."

After working for several years at Wheeling Hospital, Jones applied for the position as Chief Executive Officer at St. Mary’s. He knew St. Mary’s was an excellent hospital, and he always had a fondness for Huntington.

"As a native West Virginian, I always felt that Huntington had the best quality of life of any city in West Virginia. The people are friendly. The crime rate is low. The people are supportive of each other and they’re willing to work together. Marshall is a plus. The city has a good downtown. It has wonderful streets that are laid out well and it has excellent neighborhoods throughout the city. The social and cultural activities - the Marshall Artist Series, Civic Arena, Huntington Museum of Art and symphony orchestra, all contribute to Huntington.

"For Huntington and the region to continue to grow, it must stay the course on economic development. We have the Toyota engine plant, United Airlines Call Center and We need to continue that type of work and take it to the next level to attract manufacturing jobs. We need to continue to grow Marshall University. We have a very high quality of life in Huntington and I think a lot of people appreciate it, but sometimes not as much as we should. We need to protect it, expand it, and be as good as we can possibly be."

Despite his busy schedule, Jones does find time to relax. With his wife Jane, a graduate of Fairmont State and Marshall University, he enjoys boating on the Ohio River. He also finds time to read Tom Clancy novels and biographies. In the autumn he may slip away from his desk and go to the woods for a day of hunting.

Jones’ greatest satisfaction, however, comes from helping the people in the region lead better, healthier lives.

"When you fix broken bones, cure cancer, fix a heart, that’s exciting. Our people at Genesis Hospitals are dedicated, friendly and compassionate. Genesis Hospitals rated in the mid to upper 90’s according to the Joint Commission which accredits hospitals nationwide. That’s a sign of loyalty and commitment on the part of the employees, the board and the medical staff. I think it’s amazing."



Home | Subscribe | Advertising | Editorial Content | Order Back Issues
Send us E-mail | Reader's Letters | H.Q. Publishing | Huntington Links

©1999 Huntington Quarterly Magazine

Post Office Box 384 • Huntington, WV 25708-0384 
Telephone: 304.529.6158 • Fax: 304.529.6142