Using enthusiasm, persistence and an affable personality, Bradford Mathis strives
to provide poor, inner-city residents with the same quality of healthcare available
to affluent suburban residents.
Mathis, 34, serves as director of
community-benefit integration at St. Mary's Health Care in Grand Rapids, Mich. And
when he talks about "care for the underserved, he is just boiling over with ideas,"
says Micki Benz, vice president of community development at 324-bed St. Mary's
Health Care, formerly St. Mary's Mercy Medical Center, owned by Trinity
Mathis, who was promoted to his current job in June, oversees strategy
and outcomes measurement for all of St. Mary's community-benefit initiatives,
including $2 million in charity care and a $6.5 million budget for six community
clinics. Since 1999, he had overseen day-to-day management of three clinics in
underserved areas, including one located in a Catholic church.
Mathis sums up his
role through a single question: "How do you provide as much care for as many people
in a way in which they still feel they are getting personal care with (the same)
dignity and respect that you are going to find in any other type of private
practice?" he asks. Mathis believes the answer involves strategic planning and
outcomes measurement rather than an ad hoc, reactive approach to patient
"We aren't there yet," Mathis says. But the hospital is working toward that
goal. Through its clinics, St. Mary's plans to introduce case management for
patients with chronic conditions who may need services such as transportation to
the clinic or home visits.
Because a big part of his new role is outreach and
advocacy, Mathis is active in a variety of community organizations. "That's how you
know and understand what (people's) needs are," he says. Those groups include: the
South East Community Association, a neighborhood group; the Inner City Christian
Federation, which provides affordable, new housing; and the Grand Rapids Chamber of
Mathis holds master's degrees from the University of Michigan in health
services administration and public policy. He also had internships with the former
U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources and at Buffalo (N.Y.) Health
Care Plan. He completed a one-year administrative fellowship at Detroit's Henry
Ford Health System in 1996.
In addition to his formal training and on-the-job
experience, Mathis' genial attitude wins many fans. Says Benz, "He has a way of
calming people down. He is respected by physicians, the administration and the