Top 25 Emerging Leaders
Bradford Mathis, 34
Director of Community-Benefit Integration, St. Mary's Health Care
Using enthusiasm, persistence and an affable personality, Bradford Mathis strives to provide poor, inner-city residents with the same quality of healthcare available to affluent suburban residents.
Mathis, 34, serves as director of community-benefit integration at St. Mary's Health Care in Grand Rapids, Mich. And when he talks about "care for the underserved, he is just boiling over with ideas," says Micki Benz, vice president of community development at 324-bed St. Mary's Health Care, formerly St. Mary's Mercy Medical Center, owned by Trinity Health.
Mathis, who was promoted to his current job in June, oversees strategy and outcomes measurement for all of St. Mary's community-benefit initiatives, including $2 million in charity care and a $6.5 million budget for six community clinics. Since 1999, he had overseen day-to-day management of three clinics in underserved areas, including one located in a Catholic church.
Mathis sums up his role through a single question: "How do you provide as much care for as many people in a way in which they still feel they are getting personal care with (the same) dignity and respect that you are going to find in any other type of private practice?" he asks. Mathis believes the answer involves strategic planning and outcomes measurement rather than an ad hoc, reactive approach to patient care.
"We aren't there yet," Mathis says. But the hospital is working toward that goal. Through its clinics, St. Mary's plans to introduce case management for patients with chronic conditions who may need services such as transportation to the clinic or home visits.
Because a big part of his new role is outreach and advocacy, Mathis is active in a variety of community organizations. "That's how you know and understand what (people's) needs are," he says. Those groups include: the South East Community Association, a neighborhood group; the Inner City Christian Federation, which provides affordable, new housing; and the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce.
Mathis holds master's degrees from the University of Michigan in health services administration and public policy. He also had internships with the former U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources and at Buffalo (N.Y.) Health Care Plan. He completed a one-year administrative fellowship at Detroit's Henry Ford Health System in 1996.
In addition to his formal training and on-the-job experience, Mathis' genial attitude wins many fans. Says Benz, "He has a way of calming people down. He is respected by physicians, the administration and the community."