Providing more services for patients locally is the goal of the new CEO of Memorial Hospital Los Banos.
“We have great doctors and great nurses in our own backyard locally. My goal is going to be to have a stronger partnership with the physicians,” Ash Gokli said. “Right now, a lot of patients get transferred. We didn’t have a cardiologist; we don’t have dialysis in the hospital, so everybody with kidney failure gets transferred. This area has 4,000 cataracts (patients) and we don’t have an ophthalmologist. This hospital needs to do a better job of meeting the community’s needs locally.”
Gokli took over as chief executive officer March 1, replacing retiring chief Rick Liszewski. Gokli, 58, was a physician for 28 years, specializing in internal medicine and emergency room care.
For the past four years, he has overseen the hospitals in Los Banos, Modesto and Tracy as Sutter Health’s Central Valley regional medical officer. It is a position he still holds.
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“It’s hard work, because I have two roles,” Gokli said, before emphasizing that the majority of his work week is spent in Los Banos. “I work from here. I’m maybe here maybe 60 percent of the time.”
Gokli said he believes the hospital operates smoothly and his job is to aid in the success.
“This is a journey from good to great,” Gokli said. “For the last two years, this hospital has performed at the top in quality and at the top in utilization affordability.”
Memorial Hospital Los Banos received Sutter Health’s President’s Award for highest performance in quality last week.
“Twenty-eight hospitals, and we’re the absolute No. 1. We are doing extremely well,” Gokli said.
Memorial Hospital Los Banos serves many uninsured patients. Gokli said he hopes the Affordable Care Act decreases their numbers.
Before joining Sutter Health in March 2010, Gokli worked for Trinity Health as vice president and chief medical officer at St. Mary Mercy Hospital in Michigan. Gokli has a master’s degree in medical management, a certified physician executive degree and certifications in emergency medicine and internal medicine.
Said Sutter Health Central Valley Region President David P. Benn in a news release on the appointment: “Sutter Health has recognized the need to further develop physicians as leaders within our organization. This, combined with Ash’s desire to take on more operational responsibility, provides an ideal opportunity for both Ash and the Central Valley Region.”
Gokli enjoys hiking and mountain climbing.
“My personal mission in life is to live in harmony with nature,” Gokli said. “I’ve been to the base of Mount Everest and I’ve spent about a year climbing and hiking the Himalayas. Coming here makes me happy because I am very close to the Sierras.”
Gokli said his tenure in Los Banos will be a success if the hospital allows more people to stay in town for treatment. He said he wants his staff to have a leading role in the hospital’s growth.
“My role is to inspire people, create a vision, help people buy into the vision and then get out of the way,” Gokli said.