20 healthcare CEOs name 'Person of the Year'

Becker's Hospital Review asked 20 healthcare CEOs who they would nominate for healthcare's "Person of the Year."

Their responses are below.

David Bailey, MD, President and CEO of Nemours Children's Health System (Jacksonville, Fla.)
This isn't for any single act, but my nomination is for Leah Binder, president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based The Leapfrog Group. Year upon year, Leah and Leapfrog have pushed the quality and safety agenda. I think [The Leapfrog Group is] the most reliable and objective group in assessing health systems for quality and safety. It's a difficult task. They provide fantastic service, and I think Leah Binder has not received the recognition she deserves.

Patrick Board, President and CEO of Union Health System (Terre Haute, Ind.)
I'd nominate Marilyn Tavenner, former administrator of CMS. I believe she's changed the dialogue of provider organizations. 

Ruth Brinkley, President and CEO of KentuckyOne Health (Louisville)
In his final year as Kentucky governor, Gov. Steve Beshear continued to be a champion for healthcare. In 2015, Gov. Beshear led the passage and immediate implementation of a landmark piece of legislation to fight heroin abuse in Kentucky, featuring avenues for treatment and needle exchanges for addicts, along with stiffer penalties for drug traffickers. He expanded Medicaid access and helped introduce Kynect, the successful state health exchange. Joined by his wife, First Lady Jane Beshear, they are advocates for preventative screening, helping to raise money for outreach programs across the state.

I'd also nominate Chief Justice John Roberts. The ruling on King v. Burwell in June marked another major victory in the long-term implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Chief Justice Roberts helped confirm continued access to care for millions of Americans and made potential future reversal of the legislation a greater challenge. 

Kenneth Davis, MD, President and CEO of Mount Sinai Health System (New York City)
I would nominate Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of CMS, for his work on HealthCare.gov.

Howard Drenth, President and CEO of Presence Medical Group (Chicago)
I'd nominate Carolyn R. "Bo" Aldigé, president, CEO and founder of the Prevent Cancer Foundation. The Foundation is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and Bo has been a tremendous leader for this cause. 

Larry Kaiser, MD, President and CEO of Temple Health University Health System (Philadelphia)
I would nominate Rich Umbdenstock, the outgoing president of the American Hospital Association. He has been an absolutely tireless advocate for hospitals and really started the whole process of redefining the 'H.' We look at hospitals differently now — they are no longer just the centrality of patient care.

Margo Karsten, PhD, CEO of Cheyenne (Wyo.) Regional Medical Center and Cheyenne Regional Medical Group
Richard Miller, president and CEO of Virtua. I don't think he's received any national recognition, and I met him when I was consulting, and he is probably the most humble CEO. And what I loved about him is his focus on authentic leadership and the sense of balance he instills as a formal leader. I think he's established a very innovative, forward-thinking health system, which I think most CEOs try to do. In addition to that, I think the imprint he makes on their culture as a leader should be recognized nationally.

Mike Kasper, CEO of DuPage Medical Group (Downers Grove, Ill.)
I'd nominate Kent Thiry, chairman and CEO of DaVita HealthCare Partners. KT is working on putting together an alternative to the hospital employment model for physicians. Creating some alternatives for patients and physicians outside of one model is important, and he's doing that from the pedestal of a publicly traded company.

John J. (Jack) Lynch III, President and CEO of Main Line Health (Bryn Mawr, Pa.)
It's really tough, there are so many deserving nominees. I would say Rich Umbdenstock, in his retiring year as president and CEO of the American Hospital Association for his commitment to eliminating healthcare disparities and for launching the AHA's #123forEquity Pledge to Act Campaign. I think a lot about disparities in healthcare in the same way I thought the Institute of Medicine's now seminal "To Err is Human" report when it was released. The industry was in denial for several years before we finally figured out, "Yes, this is bad. We've got to fix this."

As a result, over the last 10 years, the industry has done a remarkable job at reducing preventable harm and creating a safer environment, breaking down the power gradient and changing culture. I think that, with respect to diversity and disparities in care, based on race or ethnicity and even broader, it's critical that we focus the same kind of attention and same kind of intense effort as we have around patient safety. I give Rich Umbdenstock a tremendous amount of credit as the leader of our industry for standing up and saying, "We have a problem" in 2011, and in 2015, saying, "We haven't achieved the kind of results we expected to achieve. We've got to redouble our efforts."

Mary Lou Mastro, President and CEO of Elmhurst (Ill.) Memorial Healthcare
Former House Representative Patrick Kennedy gets my vote. The publication of his book, A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction, has forced a dialogue about mental illness and its associated stigma. Mental illness is the leading cause of disability worldwide, yet it has been poorly represented on the public agenda and treatment is inadequately funded. By sharing his personal journey, Patrick Kennedy encourages others to discuss their problems and offers hope to those who still struggle. As a prominent public figure, his story has the power to influence both public policy and individual lives.

Joseph Mullany, CEO of Detroit Medical Center
I believe Kelly Adams and Alfredo Rojas, Detroit EMS workers who were attacked in October and received critical injuries while performing their job, are heroes of the year.

Lynn Nicholas, President and CEO of Massachusetts Hospital Association (Burlington)
I would nominate Chief Justice John Roberts for his deciding vote in the decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act. 

Mike Robertson, CEO of Piedmont Newnan (Ga.) Hospital
The patient. Today, healthcare is ever-changing and the catalyst of that change is our patients. Increasingly, they are becoming more informed when choosing a healthcare provider and want immediate access to consumer reviews, quality data and consults with their physicians when they need them.

Richard Roodman, CEO of Valley Medical Center (Renton, Wash.)
Without hesitation I would nominate Paul Ramsey, MD, CEO of UW Medicine in Seattle. I would nominate him for his creativity and effectiveness in leveraging his scope to transform healthcare — not only locally and throughout the Northwest, but potentially nationally. The UW School of Medicine, for example, receives more NIH grants than any other public school of medicine in the country, second only to Harvard for all medical schools, and UW School of Medicine is leading research to transform medicine in heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, behavioral health and a host of other areas. The WWAMI [Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho] program for medical education in the Northwest works with legislators in five northwestern states.

Tomi Ryba, President and CEO of El Camino Hospital (Mountain View, Calif.)
Author and physician Atul Gawande, MD, has been transformational. His recent book Being Mortal serves as a reminder that we need to actively listen to each person's wishes as to how they choose to live and die — and that we should withhold our deeply held professional and personal biases and serve their preferences as priority. I provided each employee and board member with a copy of his book. People were gratified and reported it prompted them to re-think their own life's wishes and gave them better insight at the bedside.

Cherie Sibley, CEO of Clark Regional Medical Center (Winchester, Ky.)
The nurse is who I consider the person of the year. Nursing is an emotionally fulfilling profession, while also working to promote health, prevent disease and help patients cope with illness. According to Gallup, nursing is still the most trusted profession in the United States. As a healthcare leader, I see the nurse as an integral part of the healthcare system.

Earl Steinberg, MD, CEO of xG Health Solutions (Columbia, Mo.)
It's a tough question, but I came up with Patrick Conway, MD, deputy administrator for innovation and quality and CMO at CMS. Patrick has done a tremendous amount to advance value-based payment by Medicare. He has done it in a very thoughtful and professional way that I respect. I believe Medicare has to play a leadership role in the transition toward value-based payment, and therefore his efforts are particularly impactful and important.

Susan Turney, MD, CEO of Marshfield (Wis.) Clinic Health System
The one person who stands out is Francis Collins, MD, PhD, director of the National Institutes of Health. His efforts around the precision medicine initiative has the potential to lead to amazing changes in medicine. Dr. Collins' collaborative approach to working in the industry and his research are phenomenal.

Chris Van Gorder, President and CEO of Scripps Health (San Diego)
I'd nominate the "front-line" healthcare employee as my healthcare person of the year. You won't find any of them listed individually on any list published in any major newspaper or magazine, but despite all the technology in healthcare today, it is that front-line healthcare worker who will put hands on a patient with skill, passion and compassion. It is that individual who will make sure the environment is clean for our patients — who will make sure they are fed, who will make sure the right drug, piece of equipment or needed supply is where it needs to be 24/7. It is that person that is standing by 24/7 for the next person who needs care in one of our healthcare facilities. When care is needed, they are the most important people in healthcare. That's why I nominate each and every one of them.

Kate Walsh, President and CEO of Boston Medical Center
I would nominate not one person, but all of the caregivers of many nationalities who worked tirelessly over many months to help victims of Ebola and to contain the outbreak. BMC's own infectious disease physician Nahid Bhadelia, MD, traveled to West Africa numerous times to provide direct patient care, as well as to work with organizations like the CDC on treatment protocols. She was just one of many who rose to the challenge of this terrible outbreak, and we owe them a real debt of gratitude for their selflessness. Meanwhile, BMC staff throughout the hospital stepped up to make sure we were prepared to treat patients with Ebola, as did caregivers throughout the country. They deserve enormous credit, too, and our healthcare system is the better for the work we did as a nation to prepare.

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