Modern Healthcare issued a call for nominations for its 23rd annual Up & Comers recognition program on May 4 and ran a series of advertisements soliciting nominations through the July 3 submission deadline. This year, we received 139 nominations, up from last year's 134 nominations. An editorial review board composed of the magazine's senior editors reviewed the nominations and selected the 12 recipients.
Top 25 Emerging Leaders
Kamille Wright, 40
Associate hospital administrator, Ambulatory-care office, L.A. County Health Services Department
Sometimes in life, you have to take risks.
That's what Kamille Wright told herself four years ago, when at age 36 she left a secure job at Kings County Hospital Center, New York, to work for one of the most troubled hospitals in the nation: Martin Luther King/Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles.
“Every experience I had in healthcare led me up to that moment,” Wright, who just turned 40, says. “I felt, this is it. This is the place I need to be.” Wright was part of a last-ditch effort to turn around the troubled hospital, which was facing the loss of its CMS contract after years of mismanagement and poor patient care. She had heard that going to King/Drew could be a blemish on her career, but she went anyway. “There needs to be more risk-takers in healthcare,” she says. At King/Drew, Wright served as associate hospital administrator and chief operating officer. It was a very hands-on experience that involved frequent rounds and meetings with employees. “I put my whole heart into it,” she says. Wright transferred to Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, Calif., in February 2007 to help that Los Angeles County facility with its Joint Commission survey, which it passed with flying colors. King/Drew had an unhappy ending, however, when it ultimately lost its CMS contract in August 2007.
Since then, Wright has moved up the ranks at the Los Angeles County Health Services Department. She now serves as associate hospital administrator in the ambulatory-care office. She works in the second-largest county in the nation in terms of safety net services. Gretchen McGinley, Wright's supervisor and director of the ambulatory-care office, says that as we move toward a new model of healthcare delivery, the nation needs more young professionals like Wright, who are “trained in the trenches of our nation's public hospitals and health systems.” With a master's degree in health services management and policy from the New School in New York and a bachelor's of science in nursing from the Lienhard School of Nursing at Pace University in New York, Wright says she is committed to making the healthcare safety net better and more efficient. She draws her passion for healthcare from her primary inspiration: Her aunt who raised her in Phoenix. Wright's aunt is a longtime lupus survivor who also has diabetes, and has been in and out of the hospital for treatment many times. Wright serves as her advocate, and knows first-hand how difficult the system can be for patients to navigate. “We need to make sure we are providing quality care for patients,” Wright says. “When I touch a patient, I think of that.”