Community Clinic CEO Judd Semingson
Judd Semingson took over as CEO of Community Clinic on New Year’s Day 2020. The independent primary health care system operated 13 facilities and was suddenly struggling to help patients amid the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to patients in Benton and Washington counties, Semingson had 275 employees in the eye of the storm.
“It is true that when I was going through the interview process in 2019, I did not include a global pandemic as part of my 100-day plan,” he said. “However, we don’t usually define our battles in advance.”
Those first few months set the tone for Semingson’s leadership approach and brought his team together. They still carry those lessons.
“I am incredibly blessed to be surrounded by such a great team. Our defining question was, and remains, how can we adapt to best help those we serve? We continue to have challenges ahead of us, but we have already been through a refining fire and will be adjusted as needed,” he said.
Semingson, whose health care career spans nearly 25 years, is an alumnus of the U of A Eleanor Mann School of Nursing. She also has a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Cincinnati and a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in health care administration from Western Governor University.
He started in the ICU at Washington County Hospitals, but spent most of his career at Advanced Orthopedic Specialists in Fayetteville. He started out as a nurse in the specialty clinic, but eventually transitioned to the administrative side as the practice expanded. Semingson enjoyed the health care business and decided to go back to school for the third time to earn a master’s degree in business administration.
He was introduced to Community Clinic while earning clinical hours as an advanced practice nursing student. He never forgot his patients or the clinic’s mission, which resonated with him. He stayed connected and applied when the clinic’s associate medical director position became available. He was in that position for a year when the Community Clinic’s executive director announced that he was retiring. After a national search, he was selected to Semingson.
When Community Clinic was established in 1989, volunteer doctors saw patients once a month. This year, Community Clinic is adding its 18th clinic in Centerton, has grown to more than 325 employees and has served approximately 42,000 patients so far. The clinics offer comprehensive primary, dental, pediatric, behavioral and other care. They even provide physical therapy services. The organization’s goal is to make health care accessible to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. Some patients have insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, while others pay on a sliding scale. Semingson focuses on increasing access to primary care, which is crucial to overall health. That means lowering the barriers. Several of the clinics are located in area schools for added convenience. Employees also connect patients with other resources, such as food or transportation.
“Our patients come from all walks of life and places. I love hearing their stories. Some are just down the street and some are from all over the world,” Semingson said.
He said that helping people and creating healthy communities are the most rewarding parts of leading Community Clinic. “Health is a very personal journey, and too often people have a limited and fragmented view of what health care means,” she said. “We have amazing team members who have a broad view of accessibility, value and service. I constantly hear about the service or connections our teams have made to help a patient or family in need. We are the only primary care organization with dental services complete”. operations under our system. This broad view of healthcare not only allows us to treat acute or chronic conditions, but also connect and educate our patients/families on healthy behaviors. This work is directed toward the prevention of disease or complications of disease.”
Semingson wants to continue to expand the clinic’s reach and services.
“Our first goal is to help our team members grow personally and professionally,” he said. “We are reviewing and revising operations across our organization to better serve our team. In turn, we look to increase the services provided across our organization. Northwest Arkansas is a vibrant, diverse, and growing area. Community Clinic You have a responsibility and an opportunity to shape the health and well-being of our communities.”
Several team members are U of A nursing alumni, and the clinics often serve as a training ground for students. Public health specialists also work with the team.
Although he is the CEO, Semingson maintains his nursing skills. He doesn’t want to stop working with patients.
“Initially, I paused direct patient care to focus all my attention on our organization’s response to COVID. However, I will resume it in the near future,” he said. “Being a physician is a core component of who I am. Being involved in direct care operations also helps me see what challenges or opportunities our teams face.”
This story is the latest in a series featuring students, faculty, and staff at the College of Education and Health Professions that exemplify the core of the university We CARE Priorities. The university is helping solve complex challenges in education and health in Arkansas and beyond with this new initiative. Visit COEHP’s online magazine, the Colleaguefor more news about the six units that make up the school.