Top 25 Emerging Leaders
Saad Ehtisham, 37
Senior Vice President for Clinical Operations and CNO, Via Christi Wichita (Kan.) Health Network, Catholic Health System
After Saad Ehtisham’s grandmother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when he was a young boy, helping take care of her affected his life, giving him a view of healthcare from the caregiver’s perspective. When he was a teenager, he came to the U.S. from Pakistan with dreams of becoming a doctor, and became a premed student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He says he soon realized that career wasn’t a good fit for him.
Ehtisham, 37, decided nursing administration was the best path to take, and earned his bachelor’s of science degree in nursing from Texas Woman’s University, Denton. Soon after completing his degree, he began working as a nurse for Baylor Medical Center at Garland (Texas). He was shortly promoted to charge nurse, where he helped increase patient-satisfaction scores by 7% from 1998 to 1999.
In 2000, he earned his master’s degree in business administration and healthcare administration from Texas Woman’s University, and in 2001 joined what’s now Presbyterian Hospital of Denton (Texas) as director of medical and surgical services. There he helped lower the nurse vacancy rate from 40% to 15% within a year, and saw patient-satisfaction scores jump from the 35th percentile to the 95th percentile during that same time.
“My goal is to make sure patients get the best care possible,” Ehtisham says.
In what he says was his “best career move,” he was hired by Angie Marchi, chief executive officer of West Mesa Medical Center, Albuquerque, as chief nursing officer for the startup hospital after his two-year stint at Presbyterian. Just three months later, he became chief operating officer of the acute-care facility, where he coordinated the opening of several specialty clinics and introduced just-in-time inventory concepts. The facility posted net income of $1.5 million within two years—from March 2003 to July 2005—and in nine months, patient satisfaction scores soared from the 13th percentile to the 95th percentile. Under his leadership, West Mesa ranked among the top 5% in the country for patient satisfaction, according to Marchi.
Marchi, now CEO for 218-bed Springs Memorial Hospital in Lancaster, S.C., says she was proud to have worked with Ehtisham.
“Saad is very bright and not afraid to get his hands dirty.” she says. “He is also very honest and won’t beat around the bush.”
Currently, Ehtisham serves as senior vice president for clinical operations and CNO at Via Christi Wichita (Kan.) Health Network, a 1,155-bed not-for-profit Roman Catholic health system. He has held that post since June 2006.
“I want the people of this hospital to make it a better model for the community I live in,” Ehtisham says.