On her way to the St. Louis Arch for the annual Fourth of July fireworks with her family this summer, Dawn Anuszkiewicz made a pit stop at the emergency department of St. Louis (Mo.) University Hospital to drop off a gift basket for staff who were working the holiday shift.
Two years earlier, when St. Louis was hit hard by storms that knocked out electricity in parts of the area, Anuszkiewicz invited one of her assistants whose rural home had lost power to stay with her until the power returned.
She has a very generous spirit, says Crystal Haynes, chief executive officer at St. Louis University Hospital, a 356-bed academic medical center owned by for-profit Tenet Healthcare Corp. While this spirit may not be the only reason Anuszkiewicz has ascended to the position of chief operating officer at 38, her kindness and determination have enabled her to win over hospital staff and accomplish some very difficult tasks, colleagues say.
Anuszkiewicz joined St. Louis University Hospital in 2004 to oversee the hospitals graduate medical education, or GME, program, which at the time was threatened with a potential loss of $9 million to $12 million in CMS reimbursements. The hospital had been purchased by Tenet, and oversight of the GME program had fallen through the cracks somewhat, Haynes says.
Anuszkiewicz had been Haynes administrative resident several years earlier. After a chance meeting in 2003 at an association gathering, Haynes persuaded Anuszkiewicz to leave her East Coast roots to oversee her hospitals faltering GME program.
Anuszkiewicz worked with the university, Tenets corporate office and a CMS fiscal intermediary to find the documentation on a case-by-case basis to satisfy the CMS audit, and provided cost reports to ensure payment. She also created a new system of reporting resident activity to ensure proper documentation occurred in the future. In the process, she forged a more positive relationship between Tenet and the university that was built on mutual goals, Haynes says.
By the time the hospitals COO position opened up in October 2007, Anuszkiewicz had worked her way up to being a senior administrator at the hospital and reported to the chief financial officer. Anuszkiewicz frankly asked her supervisor whether he thought she was ready for the COO job, and he said, absolutely, she recalls.
Being a young leader has its challenges though, she admits. I often feel when Im meeting someone for the first time, that theyre looking over my shoulder for the chief operating officer, Anuszkiewicz says. I often have to assure them that not only am I the person theyre looking for, but also that I know what Im talking about.