Age was no factor when Hospital Corporation of America picked Dia Nichols last year to be chief executive officer of its 147-bed John Randolph Medical Center in Hopewell. Nichols already had proven himself as chief operating officer of HCA Chippenham Johnston-Willis Medical Center in Richmond.
Besides its usual challenges, his job involves great change now that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been passed with final regulations due by 2014. “There are so many unknowns because of health care reform,” he says.
While handling Obamacare, Nichols also must expand his Hopewell hospital to deal with thousands of more soldiers at the nearby Fort Lee army base, which doesn't have its own hospital. “We've already started a new urgent care center,” he says.
The hospital executive, originally from a Baltimore suburb, came to Virginia in a roundabout way. After graduating from South Carolina State and getting a master's degree in health administration at Indiana University, Nichols joined HCA in Florida. Stints at John Randolph and Chippenham followed before he was named top executive in Hopewell.
For community service, Nichols requires his hospital staff to participate in three events a year such as blood drives or charity runs. He's also busy with the Brandermill Rotarians and helping raise his two young boys, one of whom is an aspiring golfer. “I like to get out myself on the golf course once a week or so,” Nichols says.