Top 25 Emerging Leaders
Jeff Patterson, 35
Chief operating officer, Desert Regional Medical Center
Community connection: Named to the board of Hanson House, which offers subsidized housing for patients' families.
First nonhealthcare job: Checkout and bagging at a Tom Thumb grocery store, where his mother managed the pharmacy.
Jeff Patterson recalls the fear he felt as a child undergoing treatment of a hereditary pancreatic disorder, and the comfort of his mother's support through blood draws, diagnostic tests and procedures.
The experience was formative for Patterson, who has had a rapid career ascent at one of the largest U.S. health systems. "It's these memories that emphasized the importance of personally understanding each patient's specific needs, and as organizations, working to exceed their expectations," he said.
Patterson arrived at Desert Regional, one of the 10 largest hospitals operated by Tenet Healthcare Corp., in October 2013 after about two years as Tenet's senior director of business development for 14 of the system's hospitals across five states. His career with the company began after he earned a master's in healthcare administration in 2004.
His work at Desert Regional has been to oversee operations of the 387-bed hospital and its half-dozen outpatient centers and to help transform services to meet the challenges of reform. To do so, the hospital will begin a family practice residency with doctors from the University of California at Riverside, which Patterson said will help increase primary-care access. Care-coordination efforts have helped to reduce readmissions for congestive heart failure by helping patients connect with physicians and pharmacies after they leave the hospital.
His work has also been personal. Patterson led the renovation of Desert Regional's pediatric unit after his arrival. His 4-year-old daughter, Avery, inherited his family's pancreatic disorder. This year, Avery has been admitted to children's hospitals three times.
"It looks like a totally new unit," said Carolyn Caldwell, CEO of Desert Regional. Patterson worked to renovate the unit as he oversaw the hospital's seven-year plan to expand and upgrade to meet California's seismic standards.
Caldwell said Patterson's experience grappling with an inherited disorder as a patient and parent is clear in the compassion he shows to employees and patients. "The thing we do that they remember is how we treat them and how we make them feel. Because Jeff has the quality of compassion, that has gone a long way to augmenting the entire team," she said. --Melanie Evans