Top 25 Emerging Leaders
Don Fesko, 36
Administrator, Community Hospital
Don Fesko might be a young face at Community Hospital in Munster, Ind., but he is not a new face. The leadership at the hospital—which claims to be the busiest in Lake County, near Chicago—made an intentional decision to choose a young candidate from the local area for the hospital administrator position.
“We were looking to the future for Community Hospital,” says John Gorski, senior vice president of hospital operations for the three-hospital Community Healthcare System, which includes Community Hospital. “There’s a changing face of healthcare. There are generational differences in the physicians that are coming out of training now.”
Administrators were hoping for someone who would learn the job, build local ties and relate to the staff. Fesko says that’s just what they have accomplished.
“I grew up in town here,” Fesko, 36, says. “I grew up with many of the older physicians’ children. When they saw someone young coming in, I wasn’t someone totally unknown.”
Fesko began his medical career as an optometrist, and holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and an MBA. He got his start in administration after serving on the hospital board and working with Gorski on a few key projects.
Since being appointed administrator of the 367-bed hospital in July 2005, Fesko has overseen the hospital’s investment in a robotic, minimally invasive surgery system, an open MRI and other medical technology that has moved Community Hospital to an elite position in the region.
In 2008, Community Hospital was recognized as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals by HealthGrades, and Fesko is currently supervising a major expansion and upgrade of the emergency department.
Gorski says those successes and the future of the hospital come down to physician recruitment. “It’s really difficult to recruit young physicians,” Gorski says. “Don develops relationships with them so they feel very important.”
Fesko says younger physicians communicate differently. “With regard to the younger doctors, I think generations know how to communicate with each other—whether it’s texting or giving them a little grief and having a little fun,” he says.
But he remains close to the older physicians as well. “A lot of this job is communicating and following up with staff and physicians. If you tell them you’re going to do something, you need to do it,” Fesko says.
Gorski says Fesko’s early career in medical practice gives him even more skills relating to physicians. “Physicians really feel more comfortable interacting with an administrator that knows what they are talking about.”