Lori Price began running an acute-care hospital at the age of 35. Today, four years
later, she's operating two.
Price, 39, is president of two of the three hospitals
in the South Bend, Ind.-based St. Joseph Regional Medical Center health system. St.
Joseph includes 45-bed St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center-Plymouth (Ind.) campus;
95-bed St. Joseph Regional Medical Center-Mishawaka (Ind.) campus, both of which
she leads; and the system's flagship, 286-bed St. Joseph Regional Medical
Center-South Bend Campus.
Price began her healthcare career as a nursing
assistant at St. Joseph Regional-South Bend and has risen to the second-highest
position in the system , located near the Michigan border in northern Indiana. St.
Joseph Regional is part of Novi, Mich.-based Trinity Health.
She is the daughter
of a grain and egg farmer from Rochester, Ind., who says her passion for healthcare
was inculcated as a child. "My father was ill all of my life," she recalls. "He had
his first heart surgery when I was only 2. So I had a lot of exposure to
healthcare. What encouraged me was my father always had positive experiences. ...
It's an exciting calling and it's never boring."
Price says an aunt who is a nun
with the Sisters of the Holy Cross (which later merged its hospi- tals with other
religious orders to form Trinity Health) and served as vice president of patient
care at St. Joseph, also inspired her to pursue healthcare as a career.
earned her three-year nursing diploma from the Memorial School of Nursing in South
Bend while working as a nurse assistant at St. Joseph's Regional South Bend, and
later graduated with a bachelor's degree in health from the College of St. Francis
in Joliet, Ill. She obtained a master's in administration from the University of
Shortly after joining St. Joseph in 1985, Price began her ascent
through the system, leaving the nurse assistant position to become first a medical
surgery nurse, clinical shift supervisor and clinical director of oncology. In 1991
she was promoted to head medical surgery nursing and two years later named vice
president of clinical and patient-care services.
"Sometimes it feels like I've
held every job in the hospital," she says. "But it helps me to know what everyone
is doing. St. Joseph's encourages people to grow and move up."
She says managing
two hospitals 30 miles apart is a challenge. "What makes it fun and interesting are
the people," she says of the 720 employees of the two hospitals. "They are just so
dedicated and enthusiastic."
Price's boss, St. Joseph Regional's President and
Chief Executive Officer Nancy Hellyer, characterized her as "so positive and
easy-going. But she's got a strong spirit and will, and tackles serious problems
head on. Little things just don't seem to bother her."
Hellyer says Price's
nursing experience brought the young executive perspective and knowledge.
you've been at bedside and know the importance of what's needed there, you know
what other kinds of improvements are needed to make it work."