Three well-deserving leaders are being inducted into the Health Care Hall of Fame. All have displayed grace under stress, personal integrity and the willingness to be on the field of play. That's really the key to any successful leader -- the ability to anticipate problems and take steps to prevent them from turning into crises.
James A. Hamilton, Bernard J. Lachner and Elliott C. Roberts Sr. are cut from the same cloth. They went into battle when others would have stood on the sidelines and hoped things would blow over. That isn't the way things get done. Hamilton, Lachner and Roberts are the kind of leaders who have made healthcare so great. They believe in the industry, and they have sacrificed to make it even better. Their legacies and their devotion should make us all proud.
During his long career, Hamilton headed organizations such as the American Hospital Association and the American College of Healthcare Executives and served as administrator at a number of hospitals. He also founded one of the country's first healthcare consulting firms. However, if Hamilton were alive today, I think the one thing he would be proudest of would be guiding the University of Minnesota's graduate administration program to world-class status. Says Donald Wegmiller, a 1962 University of Minnesota graduate who's now president and chief executive officer of Management Compensation Group/HealthCare: "Hamilton was dedicated to the idea that there should be professional managers and executives in the healthcare field just as there are in other professional enterprises."
Lachner is another prime example of total dedication. He has achieved excellence in his chosen profession but has never lost his humility and wonderful sense of humor. Like Hamilton, Lachner believes in solid and basic education for those entering the discipline of healthcare. One of his many legacies is the development of the Ohio State University Graduate Program in Health Services Management and Policy. Says Steve Loebs, professor and chairman of the graduate program: "Lachner has had an enormous impact literally in every dimension of the health management profession. There are maybe fewer than six people in the last 60 years who share the breadth of influence and impact."
Lachner's greatest achievement was his turnaround of one of the country's most prestigious healthcare institutions: Evanston Hospital Corp., now Evanston Northwestern Healthcare. Back in 1972 when he was brought in to run it, the organization had a bad relationship with its physicians. Because of Lachner's skills and leadership, Evanston now is considered one of the top healthcare institutions in the world. Lachner also is credited with achieving the first operational profit -- shortly after his arrival -- in Evanston's 100-year history.
Like Hamilton and Lachner, Roberts is committed to education. He is a full-time professor in the department of public health and preventive medicine at Louisiana State University Medical School.
He is the creator and co-director of the school's dual master's program through which students receive a medical degree and master's in public health. Before taking his current position, Roberts spent 30-plus years as a public healthcare administrator including stints as CEO at Cook County Hospital in Chicago and Charity Hospital/Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans. He was always under pressure in the rough-and-tumble public health sector.
A quote I would like to share about Roberts is from one of his former students, Sherif Ebrahim, who is now president and CEO of Strategic Management Group in New Orleans. Ebrahim says: "Although a lot of people can teach you to do well, Elliott taught me that I can be idealistic as well as grounded in reality. There are a lot of things I've done, where people told me it wasn't possible, but Elliott taught me that anything is possible."
To Hamilton, Lachner and Roberts, welcome aboard.
Charles S. Lauer