Shaw steps up as Eureka Springs Hospital CEO
Angie Shaw never expected to become the CEO of Eureka Springs Hospital when she started working there in 2007 as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). Something she’s learned over the years, Shaw said, is to roll with the punches and embrace the unexpected.
“I figured I was going to be a nurse in the ER and go about my life that way,” Shaw said. “I feel there’s a divine power up there that tends to lead us in one path before we even realize it, so here I am.”
Shaw, who had served as interim CEO since September 2020, was named full-time CEO by the Eureka Springs Hospital Commission on March 18. She remembered how her career started, saying she began working at the hospital during her last year of nursing school.
“At the time, I lived in Cassville … and I just thought this was a cool little place to start my career,” Shaw said.
Shaw said she worked at the hospital as a CNA until she graduated, when she was told that she could continue working at the hospital as a registered nurse.
“They said, ‘You’re already here. You might as well stay here,’ “ Shaw said. “And I never looked back. There’s something about this little hospital that drew me in.”
Before she went to nursing school, Shaw said, she worked at Walmart’s corporate headquarters in Bentonville. She decided to go to nursing school after her third daughter, Lauren, was born.
“I got to talking with the nurses and I just really liked that aspect of care,” Shaw said. “I had Lauren on Oct. 21 and by January, I was in nursing school. It was definitely fast and I kind of look back at it now and think, ‘How did I do this?’ ”
Once she started working at the hospital, Shaw said, she knew she was right where she needed to be. Over the years, Shaw said, she served as the head of nursing and the ER director. Shaw said she worked the clinical side of the hospital so long that she was hesitant to apply for the full-time CEO position.
“It’s been a learning experience. Being clinical all those years, I have the clinic side down,” Shaw said. “It’s the business side, the financial side, that I’m learning. It’s been an eye-opener and a good challenge. I feel like I’m learning something new every day, and I love that.”
Shaw said she stepped up as the interim CEO to support the hospital staff, and that’s the same reason she applied for the full-time position. She described how the staff has felt over the past few years with the change in management companies, saying she was relieved when the hospital commission took ownership of the hospital in 2020.
“That was one of the greatest things,” Shaw said. “I feel like we’re going at a good pace and we need to focus on what we do best and go from there.”
Shaw acknowledged a “lack of focus” when the hospital was run by management companies. She said the swing bed rehab program was once the crown jewel of the hospital, something she intends to restore to its former glory.
“We still have physical therapy and we’re going to try to get occupational therapy and speech therapy back,” Shaw said. “That’s where our focus needs to be. We never quit offering that service, but it wasn’t pushed. That’s where we need to start back.”
Shaw added, “I feel there are some new services that need to be brought in, but we need to wait until we’re stable with what we do best.”
Shaw said the stroke and trauma programs are going strong. Over the past year, Shaw said, the hospital has added new new CT and radiology equipment.
“We have top-of-the-line stuff here and that’s amazing for a little hospital,” Shaw said.
The reason she became a nurse is the same reason she became CEO of the hospital, Shaw said. At the end of the day, she said, it’s all about helping people.
“You get to see patients year after year and sometimes week after week,” Shaw said. “You watch them and take care of them. You get to know their families and they become family, too. You learn so much from them.”
She continued, “That’s what keeps me going — knowing that I’m taking care of the patients. That’s how I see my staff, as well. It’s a big family here. We’ve been together for a long time.”
Shaw said she understands why someone might be skeptical about the hospital after everything that has happened in past years but encouraged everyone to give the hospital a chance.
“Change is coming. Yes, change has been slowly happening over the last several months, but there’s going to be even more change,” Shaw said. “I want the hospital to be part of the community. This is the community’s hospital, and we’re always going to be there for them.”
Shaw said the hospital has top-trained ER physicians and “the most amazing nurses.”
“I would trust them with my life any given day,” Shaw said. “I know that we haven’t had the best track record in past years, but change is coming.”