December 28, 2013
"Enhance the well-being and the quality of life of the people of West Virginia."
This is one of the main strategic initiatives of A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia's University. And 2009 accounting alumnus Kyle Pierson lives it every day.
Originally from the small town of Sutton, W.Va., Pierson currently resides in South Charleston, W.Va., with his wife, Traci, and their two dogs. He serves as Chief Financial Officer for the Minnie Hamilton Healthcare System, a rural healthcare provider based in Grantsville, W.Va. Their offerings include a 24-bed, long-term care facility, a satellite clinic in Glenville, W.Va., day-care services, ambulance emergency services, school-based health clinics in Calhoun and Gilmer counties, outreach programs, physical therapy services, a high complexity laboratory and radiology services.
The Minnie Hamilton Health Care System is designated by Medicare as a Critical Access Hospital. Many criteria must be met to receive this distinction, but the most notable is that it is a designation reserved for facilities that offer 24-hour emergency care services seven days a week located more than 35 miles from the nearest hospital or more than 15 miles in areas with mountainous terrain or only secondary roads. In other words, rural places like Glenville and Grantsville.
"The town we're in is a good hour from any industrialized city in West Virginia, so people around here have to drive a long way for complex health care," Pierson explained. "If it wasn't for this hospital, (they'd have to drive a long way for) any health care at all. It's really important that people are able to access quality and affordable health care close to home."
But Pierson hasn't always been in health care. When he graduated in 2009, he moved to Charleston to work at accounting firm Arnett and Foster, a firm he met at B&E's annual Meet the Firms event.
"That night got me my job," he said, referring to Meet the Firms. "I hadn't heard of Arnett and Foster before I came to WVU. It opened up the channels for me to meet the partners, get my foot in the door and initially get started."
And getting his start at Arnett and Foster is how Pierson met the folks at Minnie Hamilton.
"At Arnett and Foster, I was an auditor of banks and hospitals. That's how I got to know the people here at Minnie Hamilton. It opened up a world of context and opportunity for me. I was able to travel and meet people and businesses across the state," Pierson said. "I was looking to get into healthcare full time. This felt close to home because it was rural healthcare."
As the organization's Chief Financial Officer, Pierson keeps busy.
"Every day is different. I'm responsible for the overall financial health of the organization, grants, disproportionate share funds, cost reports – those are the high level things. In terms of inside the facility, I'm the supervisor of several departments such as radiology, billing, laboratory and respiratory therapy, so I have learned a great deal in the past year," he said.
But even with a title like CFO, Pierson says his organization has a very intimate feel.
"Rural healthcare comes with an opportunity to serve a small town like the kind I grew up in. It was an opportunity that I couldn't pass up. Being here, you really get to know the patients. Everybody knows everybody. You get invested in (the patients) quickly. These services are not around otherwise, so we provide everything to the community here, and that is very rewarding," he said.
Pierson offered a nugget of wisdom to current students and recent graduates.
"Never be afraid to ask for help. The one thing that's helped me be successful is that I've done a good job of knowing what I don't know. Take advantage of assistance from a supervisor or consultant any time you can," he said.
Mr. Pierson is a great example of what B&E is all about: providing students with the skills (classes) and tools (events like Meet the Firms) necessary to properly prepare them for great careers that will make a positive impact on the state of West Virginia, the nation and the world at large.