While much has been written on the aging population, all you really need to do is look around. Record numbers of retiring baby boomers are putting enormous pressure on our healthcare system, not to mention shrinking the workforce. What the casual observer may not see is the growing shortage of available talent among 35- to 44-year-olds—the very pool from which future leaders emerge.
On her way to the St. Louis Arch for the annual Fourth of July fireworks with her family this summer, Dawn Anuszkiewicz made a pit stop at the emergency department of St. Louis (Mo.) University Hospital to drop off a gift basket for staff who were working the holiday shift.Two years earlier, when St. Louis was hit hard by storms that knocked out electricity in parts of the area, Anuszkiewicz invited one of her assistants whose rural home had lost power to stay with her until the power returned.
Martin Bonick’s first day as chief executive officer of Tulsa (Okla.) Regional Medical Center on June 21, 2005, was not only the longest day of the year, but probably the longest of his professional life.
When Kira Carter, then chief operating officer, was one of four finalists for the president and chief executive officer position at Sparrow Specialty Hospital in Lansing, Mich., she gave board chairman Robert Hughes advice that showed her boldness and integrity.“She said to me at one of the audit committee meetings, ‘I don’t think we need a COO position,’ ” Hughes recalls. “She was fully aware … that if she didn’t get the (president and CEO) job, she would be out of work.”
It’s tough to think strategically when your cash on hand can be measured in hours. That was the situation in 1998, when the newly formed Catholic Health System, Buffalo, N.Y., was a conglomerate of poorly performing hospitals and nursing homes, losing more than $20 million a year on average. As controller for two of the hospitals, James Dunlop was part of the turnaround team responsible for bringing it out of that dark night.
When David Entwistle became chief executive officer of University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics in February 2007, he had plenty of goals—but three in particular. “Our No. 1 goal is patient satisfaction. Two, quality-of-care. Three fiscal responsibility,” he rattles off. “Our focus is on those three things, and how do we get those fundamentals down?”
Don Fesko might be a young face at Community Hospital in Munster, Ind., but he is not a new face. The leadership at the hospital—which claims to be the busiest in Lake County, near Chicago—made an intentional decision to choose a young candidate from the local area for the hospital administrator position.
Two defining life moments Jena Hausmann had while a college senior studying political science geared her in the direction toward healthcare administration. First, the 1992 presidential election was taking place, and the issue of healthcare intrigued her. Second, it was during that time when her grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, and she saw the healthcare system he went through while he was staying in the hospital; she wondered how it could be so broken.
Christopher Hummer not only has the same shining pate as Dr. Evil of the “Austin Powers” movies. He plays him on TV. Hummer’s Dr. Evil impersonation, part of a video presentation for an employee forum, is just one of the ways Hummer uses technology and pop culture to build a positive environment at Carolinas Medical Center-Pineville, the Charlotte, N.C., hospital where Hummer, 37, is president.
It’s not Kim Kalajainen’s job to say “no”—even when the requests to her information technology department overwhelm its capacity. “It’s our job to figure out how to do it,” she says. “My greatest challenge is to plan out all the work and organize it and communicate it to everyone.”
While receiving her undergraduate degree, Winjie Tang Miao thought she wanted to become a doctor. Little did she know a part-time job while attending school would determine her future.“While at school, I was looking for a job to get by, and got a job in public health because it was 50 cents (per hour) more than the other medical student positions, and 50 cents more was a lot to a college student,” Miao says.
On July 29, an earthquake hit near Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Calif. Twelve seconds later, Chief Executive Barry Wolfman, who was out of town, received a text message from Assistant Administrator Julie Sprengel. It read: “Hey boss, I’m on it. Don’t worry.” Wolfman says the fact that Sprengel is always wired up to technology is convenient. But the real reassurance comes from the fact that she is a smart, intuitive leader. “You get a sense of confidence and a sense of comfort knowing you have staff like that,” he says.
When Jonathan Timmis started serving St. Vincent Health System in Little Rock, Ark., in May 2005 as vice president in charge of cardiovascular services, he became known as “very personable and genuine,” says colleague J. Lynn Davis, a cardiologist. Davis, who was then chief of staff at St. Vincent, was surprised to find how well Timmis seemed to fit in.“Here in the South, guys from Michigan don’t fit in very well,” Davis says. “For Jon to come down here into Little Rock, to a staff of 500, he fits in very well and is highly respected.”