What healthcare leaders need to know now


Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare–Delvecchio Finley: Leaders understand that medical care is only part of the solution to disparities

By | December 29th, 2016 | Blog | Add A Comment


Delvecchio Finley: “Even though access to care and the quality of care is important, access to stable housing, food sources, education and jobs play a greater influence collectively on our overall health.”


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


Delvecchio Finley doesn’t shrink back from a challenge.


That’s one of the reasons his last two jobs have been leading California public health organizations with different but significant issues. But as he surveys the changes needed not only within his own health system but throughout the nation as a whole, he is adamant that healthcare is only part of the solution for what ails the U.S.


“Even though access to care and the quality of care is important, access to stable housing, food sources, education and jobs play a greater influence collectively on our overall health,” says Finley, CEO of the Alameda Health System. “I think the evolving research in the field is making it a lot more evident to all of us that those issues are significant social determinants of health.”


The interconnectedness of all those factors makes health disparities harder to eradicate, Finley says, but one way to begin is to address the lack of diversity in healthcare leadership and the healthcare workforce as a whole.


“Making sure that our workforce is representative of the community we serve – that people who are coming to us for care aren’t just the recipients of that care but can also play a major role in providing or facilitating that care – is what starts to provide access to good jobs and stable housing, and in turn begins to build a good economic engine for the community.


“Thus, you’re reinvesting in the community, and that’s how we start to get at the root of this and not just through the delivery of the services.”


Finley has some life experience along those lines. He grew up in public housing in Atlanta, where access to healthcare was poor even though the actual care was excellent when he and his family received it. In his neighborhood, he says, the three fields of employment that offered paths to upward mobility were healthcare, education and law enforcement. He was a strong student, and enjoyed helping people, so he was eyeing a future as a physician during his undergraduate years at Emory University, where he earned his degree in chemistry.


“Upon finishing my degree, I realized that I loved science but wasn’t necessarily as strong in it as I needed to be to become a doctor,” he says. “But I still loved healthcare and wanted that to be something I pursued.”


He explored other avenues and ended up earning his master’s in public policy at Duke University. Finley was the first member of his family to graduate from college and to get a graduate degree as well, but not the last, he is quick to point out. Read more…



Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare–Debra Canales: The best leaders put people first in the mission of healthcare

By | December 27th, 2016 | Blog | Add A Comment


Debra Canales: “Leadership is not just from the neck up.”


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


Shortly before making the move into faith-based healthcare, Debra Canales remembers giving her former boss the business book “Jesus, CEO” by Laurie Beth Jones. He was grateful for the gift – but hid it in a brown paper bag.


“He didn’t feel safe,” Canales remembers now. “It was a pretty revealing moment.”


Years later, Canales is earning bouquets of accolades for her bold, holistic leadership at Providence Health & Services in Seattle, where the spiritual aspect of healthcare and work is welcomed as a natural byproduct of being human.


“What continues to draw me to healthcare is being able to bring my whole self to work as I center myself and think about a bigger purpose,” she says. “Leadership is not just from the neck up.”


Canales’ heartfelt worldview is expressed in very tangible ways at Providence, where in just two years as executive vice president and chief people and experience officer she helped achieve a 50 percent increase in women in senior leadership roles. She also led efforts to provide monetary assistance for employees coping with the high cost of healthcare premiums.


“I came to Providence because, when I talked with Rod Hochman (Providence’s CEO), he put people as the number one pillar of his strategic plan,” she says. “That was significant. It was a deeply rooted commitment, and part of that was shaping our talent strategy to be reflective of our communities.”


The medical assistance program offers free or reduced premiums tied to household income and the federal poverty level. Caregivers (which is what Providence calls all of its employees) who are at less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level pay no premiums or deductibles and are given seed money to cover out-of-pocket costs. Employees at 250 to 400 percent of the federal level get a 50 percent break on coverage.


“When we think about extending and revealing God’s love to the poor and the vulnerable, we need to take care of our own and extend that compassionate service to them as well. There has been an outpouring of gratitude and support, especially from a lot of single mothers and fathers,” Canales says. Read more…



Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare–Ketul Patel: A sense of mission fuels the best leaders in healthcare

By | December 22nd, 2016 | Blog | Add A Comment


Ketul Patel: “People support what they help to create. If a staff member feels they’re part of a decision-making process that is helping to move the organization in a certain direction, they’re going to unite behind that.”


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


Every month or two, CEO Ketul J. Patel journeys to the convent where the Sisters of St. Francis live and spends some time with the religious women who provide the missional context of the organization Patel leads, CHI Franciscan Health in Tacoma, Wash., part of the Catholic Health Initiatives system.


“I leave energized every single time I go there because of the amount of passion they have for this organization,” he says. “I have always felt that faith-based organizations have an extra touch of focus and mission than others. I couldn’t have asked for a better set of sisters to work with.”


Patel was raised in the Hindu faith but went to Catholic grade schools and high school growing up in Johnstown, Penn., 60 miles east of Pittsburgh. In an earlier role, he also worked for several years at a Catholic hospital in Chicago run by another group called the Sisters of St. Francis, this one based in Indiana.


“The Catholic faith has made a pretty substantial imprint into not only my career, but my life,” he says. “It’s given an extra allure to this type of organization for me.”


It’s also given a sense of urgency to the strides Patel hopes to make in reshaping CHI Franciscan and the other CHI hospitals he oversees as senior vice president of divisional operations for the Pacific Northwest Region. His goal, he says, is to have a top-performing organization with a mission-based focus on quality, safety and patient experience.


“We want to have a system of the most talented providers and innovative services in the Pacific Northwest,” Patel says. “Because of that, we just went through a significant structural reorganization to focus on those areas.”


Chief among the changes is the SafetyFirst Initiative, what Patel calls “a system-wide effort aimed at eliminating all preventable safety events.”


“We’ve branded it throughout the entire CHI system, and we’re seeing declines in serious safety events at all of our hospitals that have implemented SafetyFirst. It’s something our clinical staff is very proud of.”


The sense of service that Patel believes is a necessity for healthcare leaders comes from his parents, he says. Patel was born in Kenya, as were both his parents. His father is a retired physician. His mother, who passed away last year, was a nurse. Read more…



Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare–Philip Ozuah: Healthcare leadership is a calling, not merely a job

By | December 19th, 2016 | Blog | Add A Comment


Philip Ozuah: “We need to focus more on keeping people well and not simply figuring out how to do more things to them when they are ill.”


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


The plan was relatively straightforward.


After he entered medical school at age 14 in Nigeria and eventually earned his M.D., Philip Ozuah’s objective was to get extra training in the U.S. or the U.K. before returning to his homeland to collaborate with his father on building a hospital, which the younger Ozuah would run.


But the plan hit a snag when Ozuah became smitten with his pediatrics work in the Bronx at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he has spent his entire career and now serves as chief operating officer.


“I was always driven by the desire to make a difference, and to make a difference in underserved populations,” Ozuah says now. “That was actually one of the factors in remaining and practicing in the Bronx, because I realized I could serve an underserved population right here in New York, and that deepened the resolve and the passion for doing that work.”


Ozuah’s father was an engineer and his mother was a school principal in Nigeria. They stressed the importance of education to their children, and Ozuah’s older brother was the first member of the family to travel to America to attend university. When Ozuah came to the U.S., he set to work on a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Southern California and eventually earned a doctorate in leadership. But the degree of poverty in the U.S. surprised him.


“Obviously, I came to the U.S. from a place where there’s immense poverty on the one hand and immense wealth on the other, and they could be juxtaposed right next to each other,” he says. “But there is an image of the U.S. as the richest country in the world, which it is. And so, the extent of some of the privation here can initially be puzzling. You say, ‘How can this be?’ ”


Eliminating health disparities has been a lifelong focus for Ozuah, so he is pleased to see population health taking on much greater prominence under the ACA. And, if some of that emphasis has its roots in fiscal issues, he’s fine with that. Just alleviate suffering, he says.


“I’m not surprised as much as gratified because I think the focus on population health is long overdue,” he says. “Of course, it’s being driven as much out of necessity as a sense of mission, but it doesn’t matter to me what the motivating factors are. As a nation, I think we need to focus more on keeping people well and not simply figuring out how to do more things to them when they are ill.” Read more…



2016 Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare–Gene Woods: The best leaders reinvent their organizations, and themselves

By | December 16th, 2016 | Blog | Add A Comment


Gene Woods: “One of the biggest levers in diversifying an organization is when the board declares that it’s a priority. That was done at CHRISTUS and again here at Carolinas. I think it is an obligation of governance.”


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


It’s the little things that tell you a lot about people.


After CHRISTUS Health nominated Eugene “Gene” Woods, its chief operating officer, for Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare awards, the respected executive took a position as president and CEO of Carolinas HealthCare System. But when Woods was presented the award at a Chicago banquet six months later, two tables of CHRISTUS people, including President and CEO Ernie W. Sadau, flew in to show their appreciation to Woods. It was a classy move that revealed volumes about the character of both CHRISTUS and Woods.


“CHRISTUS Health was honored to support Gene’s acceptance of this award for the same reason we nominated him—because we firmly believe that his time at CHRISTUS had a positive impact on our ministry,” Sadau says. “Our relationship was truly a symbiotic one, and we wanted to honor that and cheer Gene on to his future endeavors.”


Woods helped lead CHRISTUS’ international expansion, expanding in Mexico, and establishing flagships in Chile and Colombia, where he was able to use his Spanish fluency (his mother is from Spain) to communicate with the teams there.


“I really enjoyed working with Ernie, the sisters and the whole CHRISTUS team,” Woods says. “We were able to diversify the organization and reposition CHRISTUS internationally. But I’ve always had the goal of serving as the CEO for a large nationally recognized organization committed to being a model for redefining healthcare in the next decade. And that is why I am so excited to be leading Carolinas HealthCare System. It has the depth and breadth of capabilities to chart a new course.”


Carolinas is not a turnaround situation. It’s a historically successful healthcare provider and the second largest public healthcare system in the nation, serving patients through nearly 12 million encounters each year. But, during his interview, Woods says board chair Ed Brown quoted the famous adage that, “What got us here won’t necessarily get us there.” Read more…



2016 Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare–Bruce Siegel: Diverse leadership is a must on the road to equity of care

By | December 14th, 2016 | Blog | Add A Comment


Bruce Siegel: “I don’t think our hospitals are going to look diverse in the C-suite if our boards don’t.”


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


Thirty years ago, Bruce Siegel had what he calls “a rude awakening,” running headlong into the perplexing spider web of health disparities as a young MD. It’s been something that he’s spent his entire career trying to solve, albeit not with a stethoscope.


“I went off to medical school and started my internship, and I was stunned by what I encountered,” says Siegel, now president and CEO of America’s Essential Hospitals. “I worked in the clinic at our hospital, and it was just a tidal wave of diabetes, heart disease and lung cancer. Most of it was preventable. And the other thing I noticed was that it was mostly affecting communities of color.”


It was a frustrating experience, one that led Siegel to pursue a master’s in public health at Johns Hopkins University and try to find public-policy solutions to the nagging issues he saw as a physician. “I felt like I was running an assembly line that never ended. I’d see 200 people with these problems. I’d send them back out and they’d be back a month later.”


The New Jersey Department of Health helped pay for Siegel’s education at Hopkins, so he owed them some time when he graduated. He did so well that he eventually became a very young state commissioner of health, then parlayed that experience into running New York City’s health system and a Tampa, Fla., hospital. His early years in leadership after being a clinician were rocky, he admits.


“It was a crucible in many ways,” he says. “Sometimes, it was very uncomfortable and I was probably in over my head at points. But it’s where I began to learn that leadership is about giving people space. I really think a leader’s job is to create a safe space for talented people and tools to help them move forward. If I’m giving orders, then I’m failing.”


Siegel joined America’s Essential Hospitals in 2010 after eight years as a professor and the director of the Center for Health Care Quality at George Washington University. But at each step of the way, his thoughts went back to those diverse patients in the clinic who found little hope in healthcare. “I had so many patients of color for whom the system simply wasn’t working, but I didn’t understand why.”


In recent years, Siegel has begun to see a change as he leads the nation’s essential hospitals, his association’s term for public and other non-profit hospitals with a safety-net role. The association’s members often are a driving force, he says.


“It’s great to be in the company of change agents,” he says. “Our members have leaders who care about these problems and are working to fix them. Equity is now front and center in the American agenda. We’re not there yet, but at least today we have the tools.”


At times, it’s still a tough slog, he notes. One of the must-haves on the road to equity is diverse leadership, and the effort to improve that is stalled. Medical schools are failing to enroll minority communities, and boards have been far too quiet on the lack of diversity, Siegel says.


“I don’t think our boards of directors are demanding this,” he says. “They need to be unequivocal that this is an expectation, not just a nice thing to do. But I don’t think our hospitals are going to look diverse in the C-suite if our boards don’t.” Read more…



2016 Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare–Patricia Maryland: Taking risks helps leaders grow

By | December 12th, 2016 | Blog | Add A Comment


Patricia Maryland: “I think we’ve made some great progress to expand healthcare access for many minority populations, but we know that coverage alone is not enough to eliminate healthcare disparities.”


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


Patricia Maryland is talking about her role as chief operating officer for the Ascension Health system, but her message seemingly echoes the philosophy of her entire career: to grow, you must take risks.


“A major part of my role is leading through change,” she says. “The healthcare industry is going through tremendous transformation which requires leaders to challenge the way we deliver care.”


While Maryland has been honored with a number of awards during the four years she has served as COO and president of healthcare operations, she says the arduous role that preceded her promotion stretched her in ways that made her current success possible.


In 2007, Ascension asked her to leave St. Vincent Health in Indiana and move to Detroit to become the CEO of St. John Providence Health System and Ministry Market Leader for Michigan. The recession was just getting started; General Motors and Chrysler were restructuring their debt through bankruptcy. The economic pain that Detroit became famous for was just taking shape. As a result, St. John was hurting too.


“That was the most difficult time,” she says. “A number of our patients who were formerly employed ended up losing their insurance. We had to close hospitals. We had to consolidate programs and centralize services, and that was very risky. I had to lead through the change of reconfiguring the health system to create long-term sustainability given the external factors impacting the region.”


It was a difficult professional time. But on the personal side, Maryland says she was taking a risk there as well. “My daughter was going into senior year of high school; my son was going into eighth grade. My husband was transitioning his career as well. I knew I had to make sure my family was settled and comfortable back in Michigan after having been away for 4-1/2 years.”


Looking back, Maryland says the sizable risk proved to be more than worth it. Read more…



2016 Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare–Tauana McDonald: Leaders remove roadblocks so their people can succeed

By | December 8th, 2016 | Blog | Add A Comment


Tauana McDonald: “I believe that having a diverse workforce as well as a diverse leadership team helps us serve our patients better.”


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


She paved the way for the ICD-10 project at Trinity Health in Michigan. She led the move to electronic health records. She mastered meaningful use. Now, she’s wrapping up bundled payments.


If you need a major project orchestrated correctly at Trinity Health, you inevitably turn to Tauana McDonald, senior vice president of clinical business operations for the Catholic health system.


“I know that I am not a clinician,” she says. “I identify the strategy needs and develop the plans. I lead the work from the corporate office so our clinicians don’t have to focus on operational issues and they can do the work they do best, which is taking care of patients.”


From the standpoint of organizational mission and personal satisfaction, it’s a role that McDonald says is a good fit for her.


“I think some of the projects I lead are making very positive change,” she adds. “That’s how I get to impact both the patients and the caregivers.”


McDonald came close to becoming a physician herself. Both of her mother’s sisters were nurses – one in the operating room and one in pediatrics. She remembers them both as being very nurturing people.


“People in the community looked to them during their most vulnerable times and there was something about that quality that really appealed to me,” she says.


Read more…



2016 Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare–Trent Haywood: Clinical leaders essential in move to value-based care

By | December 6th, 2016 | Blog | Add A Comment


Trent Haywood: “The model used to be ‘the suits and the scrubs.’ ... It was very siloed, and as long as you stayed on your side of the fence, it worked well. The model is changing.”


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


Trent Haywood has multiple titles after his name – an MD as well as a JD. But to find respect and cohesion among his leadership-team peers as he moved into a role as a physician executive, he says his biggest lesson was to check his degrees at the door.


“Someone gave me advice early on that, if you’re going to transition away from the bedside, you have to become comfortable no longer being called ‘Dr. Haywood’ but just ‘Trent,’ ” says the chief medical officer of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. “Being viewed as ‘the doctor’ has great social capital, but it prevents other executives from really getting to know you and sharing with you as a peer.”


But make no mistake – Haywood says he believes that more clinician executives are needed precisely because of their unique qualifications to bring the value to value-based care and to balance patients’ needs and concerns with healthcare finances.


“The business is evolving,” he says. “The model used to be ‘the suits and the scrubs.’ The suits did their thing, and the rest of us in scrubs did our thing. It was very siloed, and as long as you stayed on your side of the fence, it worked well.


“The model is changing. You have a new generation of clinicians who are going back and getting additional degrees. I think it’s going to continue to be the norm where you’re going to have many more clinicians in leadership roles.”


Read more…



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

By | December 1st, 2016 | Blog | Add A Comment


Pamela Sutton-Wallace: “I’m very invested in what the quality is, and what are the outcomes associated with care. Public health has always been about population health.”


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.”


Read more…



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