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2016 Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare--Pamela Sutton-Wallace: Leaders need to challenge themselves to grow

By | December 1 st,  2016 | academic medical center, Pamela Sutton-Wallace, Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare, University of Virginia, Lean, Modern Healthcare, Blog, CEO, Duke University, safety, quality | Add A Comment

 

Classic content: One in a series of interviews with Modern Healthcare's Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare for 2016.

 

Pamela Sutton-Wallace earned many accolades while serving 17 years in the Duke University Health System and easily could have spent many more years there. But she wanted to prove she could excel in leading a healthcare institution, and that led her to University of Virginia Medical Center, where she was named CEO in 2014.

 

“I grew up in the Duke system and was afforded many opportunities to develop skills, knowledge and relationships to be successful in healthcare leadership,” she says. “In accepting the role of CEO at UVA, I wanted to challenge myself by applying these skills in a new environment where I believed I could bring value.”

 

Given her Duke pedigree, where she rose to senior vice president of hospital operations, it’s no surprise that her goals for UVA are high: to make it one of the top 10 health systems in the country. She inherited a strong structure, one with little to no debt on the books. But as she assessed UVA, she came away feeling it was a well-respected organization that nonetheless wasn’t getting enough attention for all of its accomplishments.

 

“UVA had this great reputation, but you didn’t see it referenced anywhere,” Sutton-Wallace says. “It wasn’t on Leapfrog and U.S. News & World Report. You didn’t see it on NIH listings. But I felt very aspirational, because all the underpinnings are here. We have some of the best faculty, some of the most innovative physicians, nurses and professionals I’ve ever met.”

 

From the moment she began talks with her supervisor at the University of Virginia, Executive Vice President Rick Shannon, who is known for his work in quality and safety, she was determined that quality, safety and service would be “the hallmark of care.”

 

Thus, UVA uses the Lean method and real-time, root-cause problem solving to address six areas of concern in its Be Safe Initiative. If an issue is reported in any of those areas, from a pressure ulcer to an infection to a staff injury, Sutton-Wallace and her leadership team visit the unit/department in question to ask what happened, whether the team faced barriers that led to the issue, and whether it was preventable.

 

“In two very short years, we have been able to achieve demonstrated improvements,” she says. “That’s exciting to me. That’s why we do what we do.”

 

Sutton-Wallace took a circuitous path to end up doing what she does. Although she was a candy striper as a youth – her mom worked as a medical transcriptionist for close to 40 years in a small Baltimore community hospital – her initial interest was in politics.

 

“I was three years into working on a Ph.D. in political science,” she says, “and I realized I didn’t want to teach and do research in the political space for the rest of my life.”

 

 

She took a job working in underwriting at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. It was during that time that Hillary Clinton was attempting to create a model for universal healthcare during her husband’s administration. Sutton-Wallace became inspired by that and went back to school, earning a master’s in public health at Yale, a curriculum that still pays dividends to this day, she says.

 

“At Yale, I had to take just as many epidemiology and biostatistics research method courses as health policy and management courses,” Sutton-Wallace notes. “I was in a classroom setting that taught clinical aptitude. The majority of students weren’t clinicians, but you came to understand disease pathology and the whole notion of population health.”

 

Her background has afforded her good conversations with clinicians, she says, because she doesn’t approach situations from a strictly financial angle.

 

“I’m very invested in what the quality is, and what are the outcomes associated with care,” she says. “Public health has always been about population health.”

 

Of course, finances are always one facet of the picture, and that is quite clear at academic medical centers, including UVA, which will face unprecedented financial challenges given the changing climate for healthcare providers.

 

“How are academic medical centers, which have often relied on very slim margins, going to continue to invest in research and education?” she says. “That’s really challenging, because we still have an insatiable appetite for new technology and new discoveries, and we still want to train the best and the brightest new clinicians. But we don’t necessarily have the income streams in those missions to cover those costs.”

 

It’s a dilemma that CEOs nationwide are trying to solve, even those like Sutton-Wallace who didn’t initially aspire to a healthcare career. Because of that, Sutton-Wallace says she enjoys speaking to students and young professionals about her journey, including that interrupted path to a political-science doctorate.

 

“My best lessons came from making mistakes,” she says. “You learn a lot about yourself. You learn resilience, you learn the power of mentors to encourage you, and you learn how to integrate those learnings into improved performance.

 

“You also learn not to be discouraged if things don’t work out exactly as you’ve planned. Half the battle is figuring out what it is that you don’t want to do.”

 

 

2016 Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare: Nicholas Tejeda responds to healthcare's need for younger leaders

By | November 21 st,  2016 | academic medical center, El Paso, Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare, C-suite, Modern Healthcare, Tenet, Blog, CEO, leadership, the Hospitals of Providence, Transmountain | Add A Comment

 

Classic content: One in a series of interviews with Modern Healthcare's Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare for 2016.

 

When Nicholas Tejeda got his first CEO post at the ripe old age of 32, he made a running bet with his assistant.

 

“Every time someone new would come into my office and meet me for the first time, our bet was, ‘How long will it take for the person to make a comment about my youth?’ Almost inevitably, it would be seconds, not minutes,” Tejeda remembers.

 

Now, two promotions later within the Tenet organization, the 36-year-old Tejeda is the CEO of a hospital that hasn’t even opened yet, the Transmountain Campus of The Hospitals of Providence in El Paso, Texas. The comments keep coming, albeit less frequently, and he sees it primarily as a function of working in healthcare.

 

“Certainly, no one is commenting in the Bay Area on anyone in technology being young when they’re 36,” says Tejeda, a student of history. “Quite the opposite – they’re considered quite aged for the industry at 36. But if you look back in time at what Thomas Jefferson was able to accomplish by the time he was in his early 30s, or Albert Einstein and his miracle year that he had well before his 30s, you realize that it’s a unique function of hospitals to look at youth that way.”

 

Tejeda says he finds that large health systems are more open to younger leaders than community hospitals or small systems.

 

“I find that independent hospitals and smaller systems don’t appear to have the luxury or the comfort with taking a risk on people who might be younger,” he says, “and it’s for a couple legitimate reasons. One is that they question the experience relative to the other people who are willing to come there. The other thing that the hospitals question is the young executive’s willingness to remain in the organization for a sustained period of time.”

 

 

Some in the industry have questioned whether the changes engendered by the Affordable Care Act have deterred organizations from hiring or promoting young C-suite leaders, but Tejeda doesn’t see that as an impediment.

 

“I don’t think the ACA has been at all harmful to younger leaders,” he says. “In fact, I believe it has reinforced the need and the recognition by boards of trustees that a different talent set and a new sense of energy and curiosity is needed in leadership to adapt and understand the ACA. What has worked in the past might not work going forward, and so that’s given those in governance a reason to look at new types of leaders.”

 

A new approach is certainly what Tenet has in mind with the Transmountain Campus which, when finished in 2017, will be the fourth acute care hospital in The Hospitals of Providence health system in El Paso. The new facility is a teaching hospital developed through an academic affiliation agreement with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. El Paso is sorely lacking physicians and the new venture will play a major role in solving this challenge.

 

“This hospital is a large step in helping address that shortage,” he says. “Studies have shown that physicians are more likely to remain where they train. The relationship between Tenet and Texas Tech is very strong, and I’m intrigued by what we can do in this market.”

 

Although he left a non-profit system (Catholic Health West, now Dignity) to join for-profit Tenet, he says the differences between the two types of organizations are exaggerated.

 

“Both want to strengthen clinical quality and safety, improve the patient experience, and remain a financially viable partner for the community. At the end of the day, healthcare is a physician or nurse taking care of a patient, and they don’t care if the parent company has bondholders or shareholders.”

 

Tejeda has only been in El Paso for about a year. He has moved several times in response to career opportunities.

 

“I often get asked by early careerists, ‘How have you had such success?’ ” Tejeda says. “There is no shortcut to hard work, diligence, risk-taking and luck. But one thing I can’t overemphasize is mobility, and for me, mobility comes with a strong supporting partner, my wife. We have moved several times.

 

“We just moved from California, where we lived next to her parents – and we have their only grandchildren. Yet she supported the move to a community that we didn’t know, where we’d never been, and where we didn’t have any family because she knew this was a wonderful opportunity for us.”

 

As to hard work and luck, Tejeda grew up in Wichita, Kan., and he and his siblings worked in his father’s pharmacy from a young age.

 

“It was my dad’s expectation that my sisters and I would know the customers’ names by the third time they came in. He’d remind us that the customers never wanted to be in the pharmacy, because they were sick and sometimes grumpy. But he said, ‘Imagine what you’ve won if they leave the pharmacy with a smile because of how you’ve treated them.’ I’ve never forgotten that.”

 

Luck intervened when the college-age Tejeda found a university and a part-time job close to his girlfriend Elena, who is now his wife. He stumbled into a job working in patient registration at St. Rose Hospital in Hayward, Calif. It was there that he had a chance encounter with the hospital CEO, Michael Mahoney. The two had an instant connection, as St. Rose was owned by a parent company in Wichita, Tejeda’s home town. They spent an hour talking, with Mahoney telling him to look him up after college if he wanted a job. Tejeda did.

 

The rest, of course, is history, albeit a short history. He is, after all, just 36.

 

 

Pamela Sutton-Wallace looks to enhance UVA's stellar reputation

By | June 17 th,  2016 | academic medical center, Pamela Sutton-Wallace, Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare, University of Virginia, Lean, Modern Healthcare, Blog, CEO, Duke University, safety, quality | Add A Comment

 

One in a series of interviews with Modern Healthcare's Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare for 2016.

 

Pamela Sutton-Wallace earned many accolades while serving 17 years in the Duke University Health System and easily could have spent many more years there. But she wanted to prove she could excel in leading a healthcare institution, and that led her to University of Virginia Medical Center, where she was named CEO in 2014.

 

“I grew up in the Duke system and was afforded many opportunities to develop skills, knowledge and relationships to be successful in healthcare leadership,” she says. “In accepting the role of CEO at UVA, I wanted to challenge myself by applying these skills in a new environment where I believed I could bring value.”

 

Given her Duke pedigree, where she rose to senior vice president of hospital operations, it’s no surprise that her goals for UVA are high: to make it one of the top 10 health systems in the country. She inherited a strong structure, one with little to no debt on the books. But as she assessed UVA, she came away feeling it was a well-respected organization that nonetheless wasn’t getting enough attention for all of its accomplishments.

 

“UVA had this great reputation, but you didn’t see it referenced anywhere,” Sutton-Wallace says. “It wasn’t on Leapfrog and U.S. News & World Report. You didn’t see it on NIH listings. But I felt very aspirational, because all the underpinnings are here. We have some of the best faculty, some of the most innovative physicians, nurses and professionals I’ve ever met.”

 

From the moment she began talks with her supervisor at the University of Virginia, Executive Vice President Rick Shannon, who is known for his work in quality and safety, she was determined that quality, safety and service would be “the hallmark of care.”

 

Thus, UVA uses the Lean method and real-time, root-cause problem solving to address six areas of concern in its Be Safe Initiative. If an issue is reported in any of those areas, from a pressure ulcer to an infection to a staff injury, Sutton-Wallace and her leadership team visit the unit/department in question to ask what happened, whether the team faced barriers that led to the issue, and whether it was preventable.

 

“In two very short years, we have been able to achieve demonstrated improvements,” she says. “That’s exciting to me. That’s why we do what we do.”

 

Sutton-Wallace took a circuitous path to end up doing what she does. Although she was a candy striper as a youth – her mom worked as a medical transcriptionist for close to 40 years in a small Baltimore community hospital – her initial interest was in politics.

 

“I was three years into working on a Ph.D. in political science,” she says, “and I realized I didn’t want to teach and do research in the political space for the rest of my life.”

 

 

She took a job working in underwriting at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. It was during that time that Hillary Clinton was attempting to create a model for universal healthcare during her husband’s administration. Sutton-Wallace became inspired by that and went back to school, earning a master’s in public health at Yale, a curriculum that still pays dividends to this day, she says.

 

“At Yale, I had to take just as many epidemiology and biostatistics research method courses as health policy and management courses,” Sutton-Wallace notes. “I was in a classroom setting that taught clinical aptitude. The majority of students weren’t clinicians, but you came to understand disease pathology and the whole notion of population health.”

 

Her background has afforded her good conversations with clinicians, she says, because she doesn’t approach situations from a strictly financial angle.

 

“I’m very invested in what the quality is, and what are the outcomes associated with care,” she says. “Public health has always been about population health.”

 

Of course, finances are always one facet of the picture, and that is quite clear at academic medical centers, including UVA, which will face unprecedented financial challenges given the changing climate for healthcare providers.

 

“How are academic medical centers, which have often relied on very slim margins, going to continue to invest in research and education?” she says. “That’s really challenging, because we still have an insatiable appetite for new technology and new discoveries, and we still want to train the best and the brightest new clinicians. But we don’t necessarily have the income streams in those missions to cover those costs.”

 

It’s a dilemma that CEOs nationwide are trying to solve, even those like Sutton-Wallace who didn’t initially aspire to a healthcare career. Because of that, Sutton-Wallace says she enjoys speaking to students and young professionals about her journey, including that interrupted path to a political-science doctorate.

 

“My best lessons came from making mistakes,” she says. “You learn a lot about yourself. You learn resilience, you learn the power of mentors to encourage you, and you learn how to integrate those learnings into improved performance.

 

“You also learn not to be discouraged if things don’t work out exactly as you’ve planned. Half the battle is figuring out what it is that you don’t want to do.”

 

 

Nicholas Tejeda: The ACA reinforces the need for younger leadership

By | May 27 th,  2016 | academic medical center, Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare, Modern Healthcare, Tenet, Blog, CEO, leadership, the Hospitals of Providence, Transmountain | Add A Comment

 

One in a series of interviews with Modern Healthcare's Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare for 2016.

 

When Nicholas Tejeda got his first CEO post at the ripe old age of 32, he made a running bet with his assistant.

 

“Every time someone new would come into my office and meet me for the first time, our bet was, ‘How long will it take for the person to make a comment about my youth?’ Almost inevitably, it would be seconds, not minutes,” Tejeda remembers.

 

Now, two promotions later within the Tenet organization, the 36-year-old Tejeda is the CEO of a hospital that hasn’t even opened yet, the Transmountain Campus of The Hospitals of Providence in El Paso, Texas. The comments keep coming, albeit less frequently, and he sees it primarily as a function of working in healthcare.

 

“Certainly, no one is commenting in the Bay Area on anyone in technology being young when they’re 36,” says Tejeda, a student of history. “Quite the opposite – they’re considered quite aged for the industry at 36. But if you look back in time at what Thomas Jefferson was able to accomplish by the time he was in his early 30s, or Albert Einstein and his miracle year that he had well before his 30s, you realize that it’s a unique function of hospitals to look at youth that way.”

 

Tejeda says he finds that large health systems are more open to younger leaders than community hospitals or small systems.

 

“I find that independent hospitals and smaller systems don’t appear to have the luxury or the comfort with taking a risk on people who might be younger,” he says, “and it’s for a couple legitimate reasons. One is that they question the experience relative to the other people who are willing to come there. The other thing that the hospitals question is the young executive’s willingness to remain in the organization for a sustained period of time.”

 

 

Some in the industry have questioned whether the changes engendered by the Affordable Care Act have deterred organizations from hiring or promoting young C-suite leaders, but Tejeda doesn’t see that as an impediment.

 

“I don’t think the ACA has been at all harmful to younger leaders,” he says. “In fact, I believe it has reinforced the need and the recognition by boards of trustees that a different talent set and a new sense of energy and curiosity is needed in leadership to adapt and understand the ACA. What has worked in the past might not work going forward, and so that’s given those in governance a reason to look at new types of leaders.”

 

A new approach is certainly what Tenet has in mind with the Transmountain Campus which, when finished in 2017, will be the fourth acute care hospital in The Hospitals of Providence health system in El Paso. The new facility is a teaching hospital developed through an academic affiliation agreement with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. El Paso is sorely lacking physicians and the new venture will play a major role in solving this challenge.

 

“This hospital is a large step in helping address that shortage,” he says. “Studies have shown that physicians are more likely to remain where they train. The relationship between Tenet and Texas Tech is very strong, and I’m intrigued by what we can do in this market.”

 

Although he left a non-profit system (Catholic Health West, now Dignity) to join for-profit Tenet, he says the differences between the two types of organizations are exaggerated.

 

“Both want to strengthen clinical quality and safety, improve the patient experience, and remain a financially viable partner for the community. At the end of the day, healthcare is a physician or nurse taking care of a patient, and they don’t care if the parent company has bondholders or shareholders.”

 

Tejeda has only been in El Paso for about a year. He has moved several times in response to career opportunities.

 

“I often get asked by early careerists, ‘How have you had such success?’ ” Tejeda says. “There is no shortcut to hard work, diligence, risk-taking and luck. But one thing I can’t overemphasize is mobility, and for me, mobility comes with a strong supporting partner, my wife. We have moved several times.

 

“We just moved from California, where we lived next to her parents – and we have their only grandchildren. Yet she supported the move to a community that we didn’t know, where we’d never been, and where we didn’t have any family because she knew this was a wonderful opportunity for us.”

 

As to hard work and luck, Tejeda grew up in Wichita, Kan., and he and his siblings worked in his father’s pharmacy from a young age.

 

“It was my dad’s expectation that my sisters and I would know the customers’ names by the third time they came in. He’d remind us that the customers never wanted to be in the pharmacy, because they were sick and sometimes grumpy. But he said, ‘Imagine what you’ve won if they leave the pharmacy with a smile because of how you’ve treated them.’ I’ve never forgotten that.”

 

Luck intervened when the college-age Tejeda found a university and a part-time job close to his girlfriend Elena, who is now his wife. He stumbled into a job working in patient registration at St. Rose Hospital in Hayward, Calif. It was there that he had a chance encounter with the hospital CEO, Michael Mahoney. The two had an instant connection, as St. Rose was owned by a parent company in Wichita, Tejeda’s home town. They spent an hour talking, with Mahoney telling him to look him up after college if he wanted a job. Tejeda did.

 

The rest, of course, is history, albeit a short history. He is, after all, just 36.

 

 

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