Top 25 Emerging Leaders
VP, Quality and Performance Improvement,
Grady Health System
Determining where a healthcare provider should devote its resources to improve quality is no small feat. It's easy to get lost in the barrage of metrics that healthcare administrators need to sort through, but Grady Health System in Atlanta was fortunate to have the services of Chad VanDenBerg.
VanDenBerg assumed his current role as vice president of quality and performance improvement in spring 2012. His initial goal was to focus on reducing central line-associated blood stream infections, which can prolong hospital stays, increasing complications, costs and mortality rates.
Through a collaborative effort led by VanDenBerg, one that included physicians and nurses, Grady officials were able to reduce central line-associated blood stream infections by 39% in 2012 compared to 2011. A similar effort directed at reducing catheter-associated urinary tract infections dropped the rate by 26% between the second quarter and fourth quarter of 2012. These initiatives to eliminate hospital-acquired infections have saved Grady about $1.8 million, VanDenBerg says. “As with any healthcare organization, the goal is to do no harm to your patient,” he says. “We're not there yet, we're not at zero, but we've taken our rates of central-line blood stream infections and reduced them by nearly 40%.”
For his accomplishments, Vandenberg won a place in Modern Healthcare's 2013 class of Up and Comers.
VanDenBerg, 40, joined Grady in 1996 after earning his master's of public healthfrom Emory University, also in Atlanta. He is a native of Grand Rapids, Mich., and credits his family's primary-care physician as an early influence on his career interests. He says the physician provided a familiar face for support and knowledge about the profession and helped persuade him that he should consider using his talents in healthcare. Though he had dreams of becoming a physician, he shifted courses early on at college. He calls it “an awakening.”
“Administration was the right blend of business and healthcare,” he says. “It gave me a view into potentially impacting hundreds, if not thousands, of lives all at one time.”
VanDenBerg credits Grady's success in improving quality to the willingness of staff to embrace change. Collaboration is an ongoing theme for VanDenBerg, who stressed the importance of staff advice while he was organizing programs for early career healthcare administrators at the Georgia Association of Healthcare Executives. The group is the state's chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives, and VanDenBerg served as the local organization's president from 2011 to 2012.
While a member of the group, he met Catherine Maloney, an associate administrator at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Maloney says she has valued VanDenBerg's role as a sounding board on issues they're both facing as healthcare executives, especially as they have prepared for the rollout of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Maloney lauds VanDenBerg's ability to communicate with the full spectrum of the GAHE members—the young, mid-levels and veterans. That same skill proved invaluable to VanDenBerg at Grady as he worked to persuade physicians, nurses and administrators to support ongoing improvement efforts.
“He's just a very caring, very focused leader who understands that it's more about getting other people to interact,” Maloney says.