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
Michael Lutes, 37
President and CEO, Carolinas Medical Center-Union
Since becoming president and CEO of Carolinas Medical Center-Union in Monroe, N.C., Michael Lutes has made it apparent when his employees are happy, hospital productivity and employee satisfaction increases.
“Every weekly manager's meeting ends with “Reasons to Celebrate” and when awards are won or significant results achieved, a celebration is planned at his request,” says Dennis Phillips, executive vice president of the Metro Group for Carolinas HealthCare System. “Mike also doesn't take himself too seriously. He's been known to wear costumes to various employee events or participate in dunking booths to raise money for a good cause. All of this contributes to his likability, and when he needs your help with a project, you are more than willing to help him.” This may be why Lutes, 37, is admired by his peers as well as his employees. He has set records in employee/medical staff satisfaction and has secured certificates of need for projects totaling $40 million for growth initiatives, with Union County, N.C., where Monroe is located, being the 16th fastest-growing county in the country. “His communication skills impressed me when we first met with Mike,” says Donnie Baucom, chairman of the Community Trustee Council in Union County. “He came in one of the most difficult times in our hospital.” His leadership skills were put on display when Lutes had to take immediate action to get the 171-bed hospital in better shape than most during the recession. His proactive response to the economic downturn provided merit increases to employees and turned a healthy profit in the first quarter of 2009.
Starting out as a business major while attending Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., Lutes finally found his career path after taking an introduction to healthcare course, and two weeks later changed his major. He received his master's of health administration, graduating with honors from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Throughout his 13 years working in healthcare, he continually looked for opportunities to work with outstanding leaders. “I couldn't have achieved all of these results without the dedication of our leaders,” Lutes says. “Mike is an excellent communicator who is transparent in his interactions. He is a visionary, charismatic motivator of his management team. He views his integrity as his most valuable asset,” Phillips says. Lutes believes communication is key to boosting hospital morale. “I give my staff the opportunity to recognize their successes,” Lutes says. “They don't realize what an impact they have on the patients' lives.”