Administrator's Corner: Randy V. Galler, 2009 KMGMA President
"Blessed are the peacemakers," from the Sermon on the Mount, are applicable words to describe Randy V. Galler's management philosophy. Described by many of his co-workers as a peacemaker, Galler, assistant administrator for Knoxville Pediatric Associates, P.C. (KPA), does consider himself blessed, with a loving wife of 34 years, three "fine" sons, and a fulfilling career in healthcare administration.
Originally from the Knoxville area, Galler began his career in the healthcare industry after graduating from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a Bachelor's degree in Business. With an emphasis in accounting and finance, he was perfectly suited as the business office manager at Morristown-Hamblen Hospital in Morristown, Tenn. While working full time, Galler continued his education by taking graduate classes at both UTK and East Tennessee State University, and while the commute made for "some long evenings," Galler's industrious spirit has attracted many job offers over the years. After leaving his position with Morristown-Hamblen Hospital, he accepted the business manager position at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, and following that position, he accepted an offer as the assistant controller for a hospital in Columbus, Ga., resulting in another long commute, as he and his wife Kyra owned a home in the Point Pleasant community of Cocke County.
His resignation from the position, as well as declining a position as corporate business manager over several hospitals, reflects Galler philosophy about life: "I wanted to get back home. . . .Success is not measured in material things; it's realizing what you have in faith and family," offered Galler. "My three sons were young, so I wanted a position close to home."
For the next eight years, Galler worked for Revenue Recovery, a large collections company in Knoxville, but following his time in collections, he felt he needed to understand the insurance field, so he joined Independent Life for a year. "I wanted to know what it was like in the insurance field—I had hospital and collections experience, but none in insurance," explained Galler.
Equipped with a wide range of knowledge, Galler decided to move back into the healthcare field, but specifically into private practice. He served as Director of Patient Accounts with Cherokee Health Systems and enjoyed the private practice arena so much that he decided to go into a primary care setting, leading to his position with Knoxville Pediatrics as financial coordinator and then financial manager. Twelve years later, he now serves as assistant administrator for the 30-physician group, with five locations across the East Tennessee region.
His responsibilities as assistant administrator primarily involve managing in the business and IT departments, but he embraces an open door policy, as he explained, "Any place an individual works, problems will arise, and I've always been considered the peacemaker. Over the years, I've learned you have to learn from those things, and you have to be a coordinator, being careful how you flex your title."
Continued Galler, "You should surround yourself with capable, knowledgeable staff. At KPA, I don't have a whole lot of staff issues because I surround myself with team members that can carry on the business. I wrap myself with great, honest, capable people."
Galler's team approach carried over into his position as the Knoxville MGMA president for 2009. Galler's leadership is more about working with the team, and he admonished that the president can't and shouldn't take care of everything. "[Leading the MGMA] takes the whole team, the whole board of directors, for it to be successful," said Galler, "and I believe I had the best board we have had. We recently donated $1000 to The Love Kitchen, and another $1000 to Dr. Kim's free clinic."
Galler has been extremely active in the MGMA, serving last year as president-elect, and he will continue in 2010 to assist the new president because he believes the MGMA offers a valuable service to healthcare professionals, namely the support and relationships that are built between the members. "My experience with the KMGMA has been fantastic, especially the camaraderie, working with the other practice managers and healthcare professionals, not only locally, but when you are the president, it falls from all over, here and across the state," Galler explained. "The network of people is also unbelievable. . . In the network of practice management, I had many people call, asking my opinion about issues in healthcare."
A career highlight for Galler was the invitation he received in 2007 to serve on the Tennessee Management Association (TMA) Practice Management Quality Committee. Invited by the group's general counsel, Yarnell Beatty, Galler represented the Tennessee MGMA in Governor Phil Bredesen's electronic health records initiative. "I believe he [Bredesen] demonstrated great insight on his part, as he wanted to be on the forefront of the initiative," said Galler. "Now it's on a national level, as every physician group and hospital begins to connect electronically . . . which will provide patients with better care."
And for Galler, quality healthcare is what it all boils down to: "Taking care of patients is the most important. When sick children come into KPA, seeing them really tugs at you, but knowing we can take care of them, that's comforting."
When he isn't busy at the office, Galler can most likely be found fly fishing for trout, riding his bike, working outdoors, or perhaps, as the classic church hymn instructs, counting his many blessings.