Q&A with Inova Mount Vernon Hospital President Roberta Tinch
Roberta Tinch is coming up on her fourth year at the helm of Inova Mount Vernon Hospital (IMVH). In that short time, she’s overseen the opening of the first post-acute care hospital in the region, the debut of the Veatch Behavioral Health unit, the introduction of new robotic technologies for joint replacement and surgery, and the hospital’s Magnet designation for nursing excellence. Additionally, she has helped navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, transformed empty spaces at the hospital into patient care areas, expanded services at Inova HealthPlex - Lorton — a department within IMVH — and overseen $40 million in improvements both inside and outside the hospital.
Outside of the workplace, Tinch is a board member of the Mount Vernon Springfield Chamber of Commerce and chair of its Economic Development Committee, as well as a board officer with the Northern Virginia Urban League and Families Forward Virginia. Earlier this year, Tinch was named one of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Emerging Leaders, which recognizes rising stars under the age of 40 in the healthcare industry. She also is the mother of two young children.
Tinch recently sat down with On the MoVe to talk about recent developments and future plans for IMVH.
Q. Tell us about some of the recent facility improvements you’ve made at the hospital.
A. Since arriving at Inova in 2019, I’ve wanted the hospital to look fresh and for people to feel good. We started out by simply replacing the carpeting on the second floor with tile, which helped give a nice clean look. Since then, we’ve updated infrastructure like our chillers and elevators, and replaced furniture in the patient rooms, nursing stations and lobby to give the hospital a more modern look. Earlier this year, we implemented a weapons detection system. Outside the building, we redid all landscaping, updated the signage and monuments on campus, repaved the parking lots and relocated some of the physicians’ reserved spots to increase patient parking. All these improvements have given Inova Mount Vernon a refreshed look and feel.
We’ve also been bringing care closer to where people are. When we saw the demand for behavioral healthcare increase, we found space at the hospital for that and opened a new, state-of-the-art inpatient behavioral health unit. When a long-term Inova assessment showed that patients were leaving Northern Virginia to find critical illness recovery programs, we knew we needed to provide that service and partnered with Select Medical to open the region’s first Critical Illness and Recovery Hospital inside IMVH. This past summer, we also opened a six-room physician clinic in space previously occupied by a pharmacy.
Q. What’s next in terms of big projects or plans?
A. I’m very data-driven; I want to spend Inova’s money wisely, so it’s got to be something that makes a lot of sense, advances patient care and improves the patient experience. We’re looking at new technologies that can be implemented in the clinical space — for example, virtual nurses and the use of wearable technologies. I also want to continue the renovations we’ve been doing. We’re in the process of renovating the cafeteria, and I’d like to refresh the gift shop and coffee shop and make more updates to the common areas as well.
Q. What’s being done with the space formerly occupied by the daycare?
A. Last year, we decided not to renew the childcare lease at our facility due to the spike in demand for inpatient care in all areas. As a health system, our priority is meeting the health needs of our growing community. We were fortunate that we were able to accommodate this community service for as long as we did, but given the critical need for additional clinical space and to remain true to our mission to provide world-class healthcare, the space will be prioritized for serving the community’s medical needs.
Q. Has there been a recent increase in admissions of patients with COVID-19 again?
A. The situation has stabilized since the start of the pandemic, but we continue to follow all guidance. What we never want to do is be reactive. Inova has a workgroup, and we continually monitor COVID-positive tests, admissions and guidance. Our patients’ wishes are tantamount.
Q. With the Richmond Highway area population expected to grow in coming years, what are the prospects of IMVH adding maternity services or other services that aren’t currently available?
A. Inova Alexandria has the top program for maternity services. At Inova Mount Vernon, we will continue to offer gynecological surgery and other women’s services. We’re focused on growing existing services and ensuring accessibility to them.
Our Lorton HealthPlex location also continues to grow and experience increased visitation. We’re planning to expand MRI services there and will move Inova’s bariatric surgery office from Woodbridge to the HealthPlex’s Ambulatory Surgery Center.
Q. What is the Mount Vernon Springfield Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Committee focusing on right now?
A. One of our main areas of focus will be economic development in central Springfield. There is a lot of interest in Springfield development with the Metro, new housing and regional retail. There’s a desire for more walkable space from homes to shopping areas, which are driving studies on transit. I’m also a member of the chamber’s Legislative Affairs Committee. There have been a lot of local government changes, so we’re trying to help businesses understand how the changes affect them and how to navigate them.
Q. Anything else you’d like to share?
A. Healthcare is more than just about doctors and nurses; we need teams that look like our community. When I was growing up as the daughter of a nurse and kidney transplant patient, being a physician wasn’t my passion, but I kept thinking I could influence the processes to make them smoother for everyone. That’s the imagery in my head I work toward every day. I like to ask questions and determine next steps and impacts. And I’ve learned a lot about developing teams and the importance of culture. Things just move when you have the right team and culture.