As an undergraduate at Baylor University in 1993, Laura Irvine decided she wanted to intern at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco, Texas, for a management class. Because it was an unprecedented move, Irvine had to take her case to the dean of the business school.
It took some persuading, she says, but she wasable to convince him the experience would be relevant to her studies. As a result, she says, the business school now offers a yearly internship at Hillcrest Baptist.
A decade later, Irvine used those same powers of persuasion to convince executives of Methodist Health System that Mansfield, Texas, was the right location for the not-for-profit system's first newhospital in 25 years.
Based on Irvine's research and analysis of the growing suburban area, the Dallas-based system is building a $132 million 80-bed community hospital in Mansfield and already has opened an imaging center and medical office complex in nearby Midlothian.
"Both her analytical skills and her relationship strengths were critical to our entry into the Mansfield market," says Methodist President and Chief Executive Officer Howard Chase about Irvine. In her role as Methodist's senior vice president of strategic planning and marketing, Irvine forged relationships with key community leaders, gaining not only their trust and respect, but also their insightsabout the area.
"It's been a win-win situation," says the 33-year-old Irvine. "Sometimes hospitals will go into an emerging area and you don't always have a lot of control or knowledge about what is building around you." By working closely with city officials, Methodist was able to find the best site to accommodate both the system's needs and Mansfield's long-term plans for building and development. Irvine even negotiated the land deal and convinced the city government to add roads to increase access to the new hospital.
Her hard work paid off; this June, Irvine was named executive vice president of the system and president of the new Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, slated to open in December 2006. System executives considered her an obvious choice.
"Laura is highly intelligent, thinks creatively and has demonstrated strong leadership skills," Chase says. "She is intuitive, quick to determine when adjustments are needed and quick to take appropriate action."
Irvine will be exploring new ground leading a fledgling hospital, but she's ready. Because Methodist is a smaller system-it includes three hospitals and three family health centers-it has offered her a perfect training ground, she says."It's large enough to be exposed to everything in healthcare you want to experience and small enough to get great contact with key leaders," Irvine says. "As a young administrator, you have more opportunities to lead different efforts."