Ronald Spaeth says "running a hospital is like running the city of Chicago." He should know, having attended graduate school in the city and spent most of his long healthcare career in the metropolitan area.
"Every aspect of running a city is found in a hospital," Spaeth says. "You have to deal with money, staff, financing, human resources, service. ... You have to do all of that and still make sick people well."
For his big-picture approach to leadership and his four
decades of healthcare service, Spaeth, 61, president of the Evanston (Ill.)
Northwestern Healthcare Foundation, has won the American College of Healthcare
Executives' 2005 Gold Medal Award, the group's highest honor. He's a former
administrator at Evanston Hospital and a former chief executive officer of
Highland Park (Ill.) Hospital, part of Evanston Northwestern Healthcare. The
award, bestowed on those who make outstanding contributions to the profession,
will be given to Spaeth on March 15 during the ACHE's annual Congress on
Healthcare Management in Chicago.
Spaeth's outlook may be what made him the
best choice to head the foundation, a not-for-profit organization that acts as an
academic healthcare advocacy umbrella for the three hospitals the system is made
up of: 476-bed Evanston Hospital, 136-bed Glenbrook Hospital, Glenview, Ill.,
and 239-bed Highland Park Hospital, all located in Chicago's northern
Under his tenure, Evanston Northwestern Healthcare-which reached its
current size through a merger of the system and Highland Park Hospital in
2000-brought the first heart program and a coordinated cancer-care program to
Lake County, Ill. Spaeth also has made community healthcare a priority, using the
foundation's philanthropic arm to raise money for healthcare screening for the
county's low-income patients, among other initiatives.
"It's been a really neat
career," Spaeth says. "I liked the rewards of seeing people being helped ...
that's been the best part of this career. I think the healthcare executive
position gives you a chance to really make a difference."