8 hospital CFOs share their proudest moments

Eight hospital CFOs recount their proudest moments in their positions.

1. Colleen Blye, executive vice president and CFO of New York City-based Montefiore Health System, shared that one of her proudest moments was when the organization restructured its balance sheet last year and pursued public financing:

"This was the first time in Montefiore's history that we went for a public rating. As a result, this refinancing provided much needed liquidity for our system, and it allowed us to level debt service. We now have a solid baseline going forward, which offers us access to additional financing, as needed. That was a big deal and positions our organization with a debt structure appropriate for a system of our size and scale."

2. Robin Damschroder, executive vice president and CFO of Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System, noted her organization's credit rating:

The credit rating was upgraded "from an 'A3' to an 'A2' by Moody's [Investors Service]. They were working on that prior to my arrival, but a lot of the work we put in around improving margin performance has paid off. I'm excited for the Henry Ford team to make that happen," she said.

3. Daniel Smith, vice president of finance and CFO of the Johns Hopkins Hospital and senior vice president of finance for the Johns Hopkins Health System, discussed one of his first experience's as CFO of the Baltimore-based organization:

"I came into the role with a new CEO, new COO and a new CNO at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. We quickly discovered a significant budget gap, in addition to a planned performance improvement plan in excess of $80 million. This was quite a daunting task for our new C-suite team. We had a history of working together but were all new to our positions. Ultimately, we were successful in achieving our budget by implementing a majority of the cost-reduction plans or coming up with alternative solutions. It was rewarding to work together as a [new] team to achieve our goals, even though we initially had a tough road ahead of us."

4. Bert Zimmerli, executive vice president and CFO of Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare, shared two moments related to strong governance, including one from 2008:

"In October 2008, when it appeared the economy was melting down, our Board of Trustees Investment Committee met with full attendance, even though they had notice of less than 24 business hours. They supported unanimously management’s recommendation, which went against the advice of our consultant, to hold the course." 

5. Ben Spence, chief financial and business service officer of Fort Myers, Fla.-based Lee Health, also noted his organization's credit rating:

"I'm really proud of the recent upgrade of our credit rating by S&P Global Ratings to an A+. This is important because it reflects the consistent financial results that we've had over many years and provides access to great rates in the capital markets. Despite all the external revenue pressure and challenges with growing cost and at a time when we are making significant strategic capital investments, external agencies view us as a strong financial organization.  That is a great reflection on our entire leadership team and their commitment to strong financial results."

6. Daniel Widawsky, senior vice president, vice dean and CFO of New York City-based NYU Langone Health, discussed a team approach at his organization:

"What has worked best over the past eight months is how the team has come together to address changes and readdress challenges. The entire leadership team has reset our baseline to rebalance our revenue and expenses, to increase our throughput, to do more so that we can take care of more people and discover more and teach more. It starts with communications to identify and fix the gaps; it runs on teamwork to build a better model together; and it ends with results to do more mission."

7. Ben Carter, executive vice president, CFO and treasurer of Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health, said he is proud of consistent financial success:

"There have been many successes in my career at Trinity Health, but what I am most proud of is the nine consecutive years of financial success characterized by steady and predictable earnings and strong financial performance, as affirmed year after year by the ratings agencies. The achievement has come during a time of significant complexity, a time when we began transitioning our focus from volume to value, and accomplished a significant merger with [Newtown Square, Pa.-based] Catholic Health East, in 2013."

8. Michael Breslin, CFO of New York-City-based NewYork-Presbyterian, shared that one of his proudest moments as CFO was the organization's collaborative response to a commercial managed care plan:

The plan, "after years of very intense but fair negotiations, employed a much more aggressive negotiation strategy that put our patients at risk. The entire NYP team came together from a governance, clinical, operational and leadership perspective and rallied around what was right for our patients, right for our organization, right for our medical school partners. The result was a win-win negotiation and letting the market know we will always do what is right for our patients. Seeing everyone rally together, seeing everyone appreciate the true importance of putting patients first and working together as a team, was very powerful."


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