Walker stepped into the COO position in February, and her current focus is on increasing access to care. “We're trying to get same-day access for all our patients,” she says. “We really believe this is the right thing to do.”
Before that, she served as vice president of operations for women's and children's services at the medical center, and was tasked with relocating the department to a new $40 million Women's Pavilion set to open at Ochsner Baptist Medical Center at year-end.
Ochsner Baptist—previously known as Memorial Medical Center and owned by Tenet Healthcare Corp. until 2006—shuttered its women's healthcare services, including labor and delivery, after massive flooding from Hurricane Katrina. “People still wanted to know, 'When are you bringing babies back to Baptist?' ” Walker says.
The services are back, and with them some new additions such as an alternative birthing center. Walker says introducing unique and niche services has allowed the system to build relationships with physicians as well as increase patient volume. The system draws patients from all 50 states and 63 countries, Ochsner President and CEO Warner Thomas said.
For her accomplishments, Walker won a place in Modern Healthcare's 2013 class of Up and Comers.
Mitch Wasden, who formerly ran Ochsner's administrative fellowship program, describes Walker as collaborative, someone liked and respected by the physicians and clinical staff. He says she's been recognized at system events such as “A Night at the Ochsners,” a play on festivities at the Academy Awards.
“I think what she's really good at is focus,” says Wasden, now CEO and COO of the University of Missouri Health Care.