Top 25 Emerging Leaders
Kimberly Russo, 38
Chief Operating Officer, George Washington University Hospital
The word “VIP” conjures up many images of red carpets, bouncers and special backdoor passes. To Kimberly Russo, 38, taking care of a VIP patient on a typical day in the nation's capital means getting a high profile patient into the hospital without interference from the media or the public.
Russo, who's been the chief operating officer at George Washington University Hospital in Washington since early 2009, has forged a strong relationship with many individuals and organizations that provide care to government officials on Capitol Hill, including members of Congress and the Senate. Over the past few years, Russo has worked to formalize or streamline GW's relationship with the offices and organizations that refer the so-called “VIP” patients. These elected officials or other VIPs are short on time, but just like anyone else need to schedule a doctor's appointment, need access to X-rays or an ultrasound, or a surgeon.
GW works with VIPs to find out what dates and times they're available “so we can get them in and out” under the most private circumstances possible, she says. As an example, a member of the House may have to fit in a dermatology appointment between votes on the House floor, and it's up to Russo, in coordination with other care facilities, to make that possible.
“We definitely meet the needs” of these patients, given George Washington's close proximity to Capitol Hill, not to mention the hospital's understanding of the needs of these specific individuals. “It's key that we maintain privacy no matter who it is receiving care at GW Hospital,” says Russo, daughter-in-law to former U.S. Rep. Marty Russo of Illinois. “She never sleeps, never drops the ball,” says Keith Pray, deputy chief of staff with the Office of Attending Physician, which is tasked with the medical welfare of members of Congress, members of the Supreme Court and other Capitol Hill staff. “Even more important, she treats all patients as VIPs, regardless of whom it is” that's seeking care, Pray says. If the patient has a security detail, “then we also have to coordinate with them to the best point of entry to access the hospital,” as well as take specific routes within the hospital to ensure privacy, Russo says. GW has always served this population, “but I think we've been successful at streamlining access and eliminating hassles that were previously in place given the age of technology and exceptional requirements to maintain privacy while providing quality care.” Outside of day-to-day operations, Russo's job involves specific planning of events that are unique to Washington, such as inaugural events. Jonathan Reiner, director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at GW, says preparedness is Russo's hallmark, a testament to her ability “to plan large strategic moves and at-home planning that involves small details for VIP patients.”