Having spent much of his childhood in Mystic, CT, Art Keeney is no stranger to life on the water. Perhaps that’s why he’s always felt so at home on the Outer Banks, where he lives with his wife, Alice, a native of Morehead City, NC. The two met when they were both working in Baltimore, MD, and decided to settle in Engelhard, NC, when Keeney became president and CEO of East Carolina Bank back in 1995. Now retired, he serves on The Outer Banks Hospital board — among other Vidant Health boards — in an effort to benefit his “hometown hospital” and the Outer Banks community he loves.
Keeney’s admiration for the culture of the Outer Banks runs deep. He emphasizes the resilience it requires to work, live and raise families in an environment that can at times be as challenging as it is wonderful: “The sense of decency among the people of the Outer Banks; the sense of purpose; their toughness…it’s a hearty bunch of folks,” Keeney says. After Hurricane Isabel demolished the historic Jennette’s Pier in 2003, Keeney led the charge as Chairman of the North Carolina Aquarium Society to obtain funding to revitalize the pier. The newly reinforced structure can now withstand up to a Category 5 storm. “People are again having fun,” says Keeney, who understands the importance of the pier as a community landmark and gathering place.
Keeney talks about the burden of having to travel far away for care before the presence of The Outer Banks Hospital: “If someone had a doctor’s appointment, an emergency, a trauma, or fill in the blank, you had to go essentially to Elizabeth City, or you had to go up to Norfolk.” He sees the hospital’s continued growth as a boon to the area and closely tied to the growth of the Outer Banks itself. The hospital, Keeney says, “has helped the Outer Banks grow by having the facility right there, which is like a magnet to attract others to the area.”
On several occasions, Keeney has had to switch roles from overseer to patient at The Outer Banks Hospital. In 2013 he had his right knee replaced, and his left hip was replaced the following year. Then in 2015 he underwent a double-hernia correction. “The care I received was outstanding,” Keeney says. As a board member, Keeney is acutely aware of the routines that the nurses and staff are supposed to be following and the questions they’re supposed to be asking of patients. Keeney felt that everyone performed without fail. “Best practices lead to best returns,” he says.
Keeney also speaks very highly of his surgeons, who took the time to explain things to him in a thorough, understandable way. He is happy to report that the surgeries were successful on all fronts. Says Keeney, “I know what a good delivery system demands — of the staff and the quality of the personnel — and the community should be very, very proud of The Outer Banks Hospital.”