Clifton-Fine Hospital Hires New CEO

CHRISTOPHER LENNEY / NNY BUSINESS
Clifton-Fine Hospital in Star Lake, N.Y., appointed Dierdra D. Sorrell, MSN, RN, its permanent CEO.

BY: Olivia Belanger
With 25 years of local nursing experience under her scrubs, Dierdra D. Sorrell was ready to take on the position as chief executive officer of Clifton-Fine Hospital.

    Ms. Sorrell was selected by the hospital’s board of directors on Feb. 1, after serving as interim CEO for five months prior. Previously, Robert L. Seamon held the position starting in 2013, but resigned in August after taking a position as CEO of Copper Queen Community Hospital in Tucson, Ariz.

    John Burns, chairman of the hospital’s board of directors, said the board did a nationwide search to fill the position, which brought in 30 candidates and four semi-finalists.

    “During her time as interim CEO, the board has been impressed with her strong background in patient care, her understanding of issues in the healthcare field and her leadership skills,” Mr. Burns said. “We think Dierdra is a great fit for the hospital and we look forward to exciting new opportunities working with her.”

    Ms. Sorrell started her nursing career in the north country. Born and raised in Clayton, she graduated from Jefferson Community College – later receiving a master’s of science in nursing degree from Walden University – and took a nursing position at Samaritan Medical Center in 1994. At Samaritan Medical Center, she soon became a float nurse, allowing her to work in multiple departments.

    “I was working anywhere from outpatient to critical care, so my favorite thing about being a nurse was definitely that,” Ms. Sorrell said.

    Ms. Sorrell has a pattern throughout her career of not only liking change, but thriving on it. Her love from being a float nurse stems from that.

    “You’re never stagnant,” Ms. Sorrell said. “There are always opportunities to go to different departments and try different things.”

    She landed herself in the intensive care unit, which became her “love.” With her background in both critical and intensive care, Ms. Sorrell began her journey in several leadership roles at Samaritan Medical Center.

    “Through my leadership roles, I often stepped outside of my comfort zone,” Ms. Sorrell said. “It came to a point where I had managed most departments in the hospital.”

    Starting in 2004, Ms. Sorrell held nurse manager positions in critical care, float pool, pediatrics and medical surgery departments. In 2015, she was promoted to the director of nursing and had also served as interim emergency department director. 

    Her leadership positions only left her wanting more, she said. Before taking the position with Clifton-Fine Hospital, she had her eye on a Chief Nursing Officer position, but decided the CEO position would be more beneficial for her.

    As CEO, Ms. Sorrell said her career-long experience with Samaritan Medical Center – an affiliate of Clifton-Fine Hospital – positions her well to leverage their partnership through shared services and exploring clinical opportunities.

    “One of our strengths is the affiliation with Samaritan Medical Center,” Ms. Sorrell said.

    Ms. Sorrell also said by focusing on the affiliation, the hospital will then be able to have financial strength and create a culture of service excellence.

    Clifton-Fine Hospital is a very critical, rural-access hospital, with an outpatient clinic, emergency department, acute care and long-term care services and rehabilitation services.

    “There is limited access to care, long distances to other facilities and a significant summer population. We are truly a safety net provider,” Ms. Sorrell said.

    Though being a CEO wasn’t in her original plan, Ms. Sorrell said she is uniquely suited. There has been a trend amongst hospitals to place medical professionals into higher positions, she said.

    “In the current climate of value-based and population health models, more hospitals and systems are putting skilled clinicians who also have business savvy into top executive jobs,” Ms. Sorrell said.

    She said she has always been the type to pursue positions outside of her comfort zone to push herself. When it comes to being the new CEO, she said it’s another opportunity for self-growth, while also furthering the community’s healthcare options.

    “At the end of the day, the hospital is a business, but it’s a business for caring for people. There is a sensible balance between patient care and business. Even though it wasn’t my path, the nursing and operational experience uniquely sets me up for that,” Ms. Sorrell said.