Partner Spotlight

Partners in Progress: Stacey Gabriel, CEO of Hocking Valley Community Hospital

December 5, 2023

At Stroudwater Capital Partners, we know our work wouldn’t be possible without the clients and collaborators who share our vision for reinventing rural healthcare. Through our Partners in Progress spotlight series, we celebrate the people who make these projects possible, trace the journey that led them to their role, and learn more about the work they’re doing to make widespread health a reality. 

Today, we get to know Stacey Gabriel, CEO of Hocking Valley Community Hospital (HVCH) in Logan, Ohio.


Carving a Path and Finding a Fit in Healthcare 

As the CEO of HVCH, Stacey Gabriel stands at the helm of a healthcare institution that has proudly served the Logan community for more than a century. Her path to rural healthcare leadership began with her family’s purchase of a family-style restaurant in the community in 1985. Relocating from Lancaster, Ohio, Gabriel and her family established roots in Logan, Ohio—a small community about 20 minutes south of their previous home. Little did she know this purchase would shape her career trajectory and lead her right into the heart of a life dedicated to rural healthcare.

“I started in the school district, attending middle school and high school, making new friends and getting involved in the community. The restaurant offered catering services, which allowed me to interact with clubs like Rotary and Kiwanis in addition to other events the local businesses would have. This is how I came to know the community of Logan and Hocking County and met so many people,” she reminisced.

After graduating from high school in Logan, Gabriel initially considered a career in mathematics. However, an unexpected twist led her to the world of nursing. 

“One of my friends said, ‘Maybe you should go to nursing school with me,’ and I thought, “That sounds like a great idea. Let’s do it!”

And so, she began down her path into nursing, attending a two-year associate program in Nelsonville, Ohio, while continuing to wait tables at the restaurant.

Upon completing her LPN, Gabriel found herself at Hocking Valley Community Hospital and continued working as a nurse while pursuing her RN degree. Initially, she planned to gain experience and eventually move to a bigger city hospital. However, her passion for taking care of her community drew her in, and she fell in love with the people she served. she started in the skilled nursing facility and saw how her deep community connections allowed her to excel, knowing so many of the patients and their families from the restaurant.

Her career path then led her through various roles, including work in the Operating Room and Emergency Department, time as a flight nurse, and roles as House Supervisor and Chief Nursing Officer. It was during her time as house supervisor that she ventured into leadership, ultimately setting her trajectory towards becoming the hospital’s CEO in 2018.

“I’ve taken step after step, and the community and people have been so supportive, allowing me to rise through the ranks from LPN to CEO,” Gabriel explained. “I have the best team in the world.”

Her journey highlights the importance of community engagement, professional growth, and staying true to one’s passion. 

Hocking Valley Community Hospital
Hocking Valley Community Hospital


Stepping Into Leadership

While she may miss bedside nursing at times, Gabriel has palpable enthusiasm and passion for her current role as CEO. She hopes to continue to foster an environment where the team that shares her passion can thrive, engage in forward-thinking approaches, and build on its commitment to the well-being of their community and supporting the hospital’s mission.

“Our culture sets Hocking Valley apart,” she said, explaining that over the past two decades, the hospital has focused on building an employee-centric culture. They have worked diligently on hiring the right people and ensuring the work environment is a great fit for everyone involved. This dedication to maintaining high standards has allowed Hocking Valley to continue to excel and carry the hospital’s values and mission forward.

“The result is a family-oriented, close-knit, and supportive culture where individuals genuinely care about one another. The staff are more than colleagues; they are a community within the hospital,” said Gabriel.

She emphasized the importance of relationships in any professional endeavor and how vital it is to connect, relate, and communicate effectively with both colleagues and stakeholders. “I’ve always said relationships are the key to anything you do in life. Being able to communicate, walk the walk, and talk to the talk, you must demonstrate those things every single day.”

Hocking Hills Scenic Byway
Hocking Hills Scenic Byway


Building an Even Brighter Future

With improved financial performance and stability, one of Gabriel’s key goals for HVCH is the master facility plan update. The hospital—originally built in 1966 and designed primarily for inpatient care—now requires modernization and expansion to meet current space constraints and a growing population to serve. The plan includes adding a two-story addition to the front of the hospital to consolidate outpatient services, enhance patient access, and improve parking. The expansion will provide opportunities to add new services that are currently beyond the hospital’s capacity. Gabriel also shared they launched a school-based health clinic, offering services for students while at school—something that previously had not been provided.

To ensure the hospital continues to offer services that align with the community’s needs while also maintaining its independence, the team utilizes market share reviews and regular evaluations to make data-driven decisions for service offerings and system improvements. She also leads the community health needs assessments to stay on top of the area’s evolving needs to make informed decisions about special health and wellness initiatives.

“One of the standout qualities of the community here is its close-knit nature,” Gabriel states. The county has a population of about 27,000 people, with Logan, the county seat, being home to around 7,000 residents. We have a strong school system with excellent facilities for students, and recently opened a versatile indoor facility that offers various recreational opportunities.”

Gabriel went on to proudly note: “The hospital benefits from a thriving tourism industry, thanks to the region’s natural beauty and outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, zip-lining, and more.” She explained the county attracts tourists from across the United States as well as other countries. “The influx of tourists has brought people from all over, making our community vibrant and diverse.”

As for the future of rural healthcare, Gabriel said she sees positive trends emerging. The shift in policy changes that consider the needs of small, critical access, and rural hospitals has been welcome. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, policies and conditions of participation began to consider the unique challenges rural hospitals face, providing hope for more thoughtful changes in the future.

She pointed to the surge in telehealth usage during the pandemic, noting that the community felt safe using the service, which offered benefits during a stressful and uncertain time, especially for mental health patients, and expressed hope that telehealth’s growth would continue and be able to serve those who need it.

Looking forward, Gabriel offered advice for women aspiring to leadership roles in healthcare, specifically in rural healthcare.

“It is important to remain vulnerable and surround yourself with a strong team. You must be able to recognize where you need support and remain open to learning at every turn.”

She went on to stress the importance of speaking up, and having a voice, even if you initially feel like a small fish in a big pond.

Stacey Gabriel’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of passion, hard work, and dedication. Her leadership at Hocking Valley Community Hospital and its commitment to fostering and maintaining a close-knit, employee-focused culture that appreciates and supports its community, stands as a sparkling example of one of the many ways rural healthcare shines. The community in Logan and the Hocking County region continues to benefit from a healthcare system led by individuals deeply connected to the community with a true passion for providing the best possible care.

Rock Mill Park Fairfield County
Fairfield County’s Historic Rock Mill