The scarcity of front-line workers, especially nurses, garners most of the headlines about healthcare labor woes, but a new group hopes to highlight-and mitigate-the less-talked-about shortage of future hospital leaders.
The National Center for Healthcare Leadership aims to bring the current crop of healthcare leaders and their professional associations together with healthcare-management educators to ensure that replacements are ready when today's leaders retire.
"Some of the mega-health systems are finding that there are few qualified candidates. We don't have enough of that talent," said Marie Sinioris, vice president of the center, which was formed November 2001 and expects to move into new offices in Chicago later this month.
Sinioris, 58, will run the center's day-to-day operations. Her career includes 30 years with 703-bed Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center and its affiliated Rush University, both in Chicago. Most recently she was a vice president with the hospital and a professor of health management at the university.
Longtime healthcare executive Gail Warden, 63, has agreed to serve as the center's chairman and chief executive officer. Warden, who recently announced he would retire as president and CEO of the financially troubled five-hospital Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, in 2003 or 2004 (Jan. 21, p. 7), was involved with the planning that led to the center's creation. Its board also includes Gary Mecklenburg, chairman of the American Hospital Association's board and president and CEO of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, Chicago.
So far, the center has raised $113,000 in foundation and corporate grants, Sinioris said. It has applied to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, N.J., for a substantial grant that would cover most of the center's initial costs. At deadline, Sinioris said she was expecting a decision from the foundation to come soon.
The new center's work could be seen as a challenge to traditional professional organizations, such as the American College of Healthcare Executives, but Sinioris maintains that the center's purpose is to organize the full range of healthcare-management professional groups and bring them together with educators, not to supplant existing organizations. The ACHE declined to comment on the new leadership organization. The idea for the center grew out of the National Summit on the Future of Education and Practice in Health Management and Policy, which met about a year ago.