Leadership is a buzzword these days. Everyone's talking about how essential it is for those in healthcare management to lead the way in these changing times. But you really can't learn leadership from a book or a seminar. There's something more to leadership that comes from spending time in the trenches. That's how the five individuals who will be inducted this year into the Health Care Hall of Fame made their marks in the industry. They all became great leaders because they lived their dreams, they took risks and they persevered. Healthcare is the better for all they have experienced in their careers.
Loretta C. Ford was born in 1920 in New York. She was to become one of the most dynamic and innovative executives the healthcare industry has experienced.
In 1965 at the University of Colorado, 12 women entered an experimental pediatric nurse practitioner graduate program. Of those 12, some are now heads of practice programs, others are professors, and still others are academic deans. By the time the Colorado program was 10 years old there were more than 10,000 nurse practitioners in the country. Today nearly 30,000 registered nurses are also certified as nurse practitioners. Ford created the university program and founded the nurse practitioner movement.
She has never stopped pursuing her two loves, nursing and teaching. And she's always been fascinated with public health. Early in her career she took a position as a public health nurse in rural Boulder County in Colorado. She worked in public schools with tuberculosis patients, in clinics serving crippled children and in well-baby clinics. Shortly after the Boulder city and county health departments combined, she became public health nursing supervisor, holding that post for 11 years.
In 1960 she became an assistant professor and then a full professor at the University of Colorado (Boulder) School of Nursing. She stayed there until 1972 when she became the founding dean of the University of Rochester (N.Y.) School of Nursing.
Since retiring in 1986, she has served as professor and dean emeritus at the University of Rochester.
To Sister Grace Marie Hiltz, every day was like Christmas. She loved people, especially children-always giving gifts and giving of her time.
She was president and chief executive officer of Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati from 1962 to 1979. After leaving Good Samaritan she founded Sisters of Charity Health Care Systems, which would become one of the nation's larger not-for-profit systems.
Everyone loved and respected her. She exuded congeniality and integrity. No one who ever met her came away without realizing that here was a very talented and farsighted individual. This became most evident in the early 1970s when she realized that the future was in managed care, so she founded Cincinnati's first HMO.
They say Hiltz loved the Cincinnati symphony and enjoyed a good game of poker. And her devotion to the Cincinnati Reds baseball team is legend. There are even some rumors that holy water was sprinkled on the Astroturf at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium during her tenure at Good Samaritan.
Hiltz died unexpectedly in 1985, but her healthcare legacy will always live on.
David Kinzer was born in 1920 and grew up in Pittsburgh. He was a Navy dive bomber and a fighter pilot in the Pacific during World War II. He was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross, the highest honor bestowed by the United States on its fliers.
In 1953 he began a 40-year commitment to the healthcare industry in association leadership and education. He started his
career in 1948 as an editor at the American Hospital Association. But by 1953 he was assistant director of the Illinois Hospital Association and Chicago Hospital Council. He served as the executive vice president and chief executive officer of the IHA from 1957 to 1973. He then served as president of the Massachusetts Hospital Association from 1973 to 1985.
Kinzer, who died in 1990 at the age of 70, was a champion for universal healthcare coverage and other services for the poor. He also advocated an activist role for healthcare associations. His books, articles and industry awards run the gamut.
Donald Dunn, former head of the Iowa Hospital Association, probably summed up what all Kinzer friends and admirers see as his legacy: "David Kinzer had a passion. He cared about people virtually without ceasing. He cared about his work and its influences on the affairs of hospitals, healthcare and on the concerns of health and well-being of all Americans."
John Alexander McMahon was named president of the American Hospital Association in 1972. In that capacity he served the nation's hospitals and his nation quite well indeed. Over the years, his candor, charm and honesty made him one of the most respected people in healthcare. His ascendancy to the top post at the AHA, however, was something of a surprise to the healthcare industry. Until that time he was virtually unknown. Aside from serving four years as the president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, he had little background in healthcare, although his academic background was impressive.
The first seven years of McMahon's tenure at the AHA were spent battling cost-control policies coming from Congress and the White House. In the end, healthcare won, thanks in no small measure the efforts of McMahon and his AHA colleagues. It was during this period that McMahon recognized the healthcare industry would come under increasing fire from Washington. In response, he doubled the size of the AHA's Washington office and helped establish a grass-roots political organization at the state and county levels to fend off attacks on the industry.
McMahon left the AHA in 1986 to return to his roots. At the age of 65 he became an endowed professor and chairman of Duke University's department of health administration.
John Devereaux Thompson is another example of a leader with keen vision. He saw what the industry would need in the future and, in spite of formidable obstacles, developed a system that would have a profound impact on healthcare costs. In 1967, along with Yale University colleague Robert Fetter, Thompson began developing a system of coding medical treatments called diagnosis-related groups of illnesses, known today as DRGs. In 1980 New Jersey put the theory into practice. The federal government authorized an experimental plan to apply DRGs to Medicare reimbursement in that state. Three years later HCFA began using DRGs on a national scale.
Thompson was born in Franklin, Pa., in 1917 and grew up in Canton, Ohio. He began his healthcare career in a nontraditional way: as a nurse. He trained at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan. He served in the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II. After earning a bachelor's degree from New York's City College in 1948 he went on the receive his master's degree in hospital administration from Yale in 1950. He spent a few years in Europe studying healthcare development in various countries. He then came home to the states, working in hospital administration until 1956. He returned to Yale, where he stayed until his retirement in 1988.
Ford, Hiltz, Kinzer, McMahon and Thompson are true leaders and are truly deserving of membership in the Heath Care Hall of Fame.
Charles S. Lauer