For Baylor Scott & White Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alex Arroliga and Chief Nursing Officer Janice Walker, having a close working relationship built on mutual respect, constant communication and shared goals and accountability before COVID-19 hit meant the system was better prepared to save lives and protect front-line nurses and doctors as the pandemic worsened.
During the peak of the pandemic, Arroliga and Walker—who lead under a CMO-CNO dyad at BSWH—were talking two to three times a day, making decisions that would affect patient care and employees at all of the system’s 51 hospitals. Without that leadership structure, BSWH’s COVID response might have seen “increased variability” that “could have promoted more harm, more fear and more chaos,” said Walker, who has been in her role for three years.
“And that’s not to be boastful. It comes out of a sense of how organized and orchestrated we became to protect our soldiers,” Walker said.
Over the years, studies have shown that poor communication and coordination between physicians and nurses—both at the leadership level and on the front lines—can have a harmful impact on everything from patient care to employee satisfaction and retention.
Their leadership efforts before and during the pandemic helped land Arroliga and Walker on Modern Healthcare’s list of the 50 Most Influential Clinical Executives.