Women to Watch: Hospital CEO Crystal Landry, RN is a health care hero on a personal mission

Mainebiz: You began your career as a certified nursing assistant, and are now the CEO of Penobscot Valley Hospital. How have you advanced so far professionally?

Crystal Landry: I grew up in the rural town of Sherman, completed a CNA program, and began working in a local nursing home. I later completed my nursing degree and began as a staff nurse. My professional goal was to work in every level of hospital positions so that I would be able to understand the hospital delivery system firsthand. I was very fortunate to have many mentors, and work with peers who always wanted to see what more we could learn and do.

My desire to become a leader at PVH, a rural hospital, was the direct result of a personal experience.

My stepfather suffered a heart attack and cardiac arrest while at work in a northern Maine school. He was transported to Houlton Regional Hospital, a critical access hospital, and then to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. Now, 10 years later, we are still celebrating and enjoying each day with him because of a rural hospital. I knew that at some point in my career, I wanted to transition to becoming a strong advocate for those hospitals.

CL: Six years ago, when I joined PVH, I could see the financial challenges mounting as the town’s largest employer closed and many people lost their jobs. This economic change was felt as a ripple effect at PVH. In 2019, I accepted the role of CEO, and 10 days later we filed PVH into Chapter 11 bankruptcy with the goal of restructuring so that the hospital could remain open. That was something personally I knew was critical for the people who live in and visit our community.

MB: Ultimately, the hospital emerged from Chapter 11, and did so without laying off employees. What do you attribute that success to?

CL: This is simply and 100% a result of the support from the community and the dedicated staff at PVH. The community and town of Lincoln’s leadership recognized the critical need of a local hospital, both to meet health care needs and because of the economic value of 175 jobs. The staff always remained focused on providing the highest quality care. That kept patients choosing PVH for their care and is why our team was able to successfully restructure through bankruptcy. We emerged on stronger financial ground.

MB: PVH has been on the front lines of the pandemic. How are you and your team dealing with the crisis?

COVID has made health care evolve. Nearly every day we are required to adapt as the science and hospital regulations evolve. I am very proud that we have done so safely without any staff or patient outbreaks transmitted within the hospital.

MB: How do you feel about your job today?

CL: Health care leadership is tough. I enjoy that there is something new every day, but I couldn’t do my job without the team we have. And I enjoy working and living in a rural town. I look forward to going to my kids’ sports events and hearing from someone sitting next to me in the bleachers, who is thankful that when a family member needed emergency care, PVH was ready.

MB: Where do you see the hospital and your role going in the next few years?