6 newly appointed female leaders discuss top priorities in first year

Across hospitals and health systems, women are taking on new leadership roles as their organizations adjust strategies and operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While they will face challenges along the way, they told Becker's they have fresh opportunities to support medical workers and their local communities.

Here, women recently named to new healthcare positions share what has them most excited about their new position as well as their top priorities during the first year.

Amyra (Amy) Daher, MSN, BSN, RN, named chief nursing officer of University Medical Center of El Paso (Texas): As the new chief nursing officer for University Medical Center of El Paso, I am most excited about leading our nursing team during the COVID -19 pandemic and ensuring the team feels supported and have all the resources needed to take care of COVID-19 patients. I also look forward to growing the nursing service line in areas that will benefit our El Paso community.

Top priorities: During this first year, my priorities will focus on maintaining UMC of El Paso at the highest level of patient safety and quality. I want to ensure that every patient receives the highest level of care every time they receive any service from us. It is also important that our front-line nurses feel supported during this pandemic through education, resources and the required personal protective equipment to take care of COVID -19 patients as well as all other patients.

Ashli Danilko, named CEO of St. Michael's Hospital Avera (Tyndall, S.D.): I am excited to meet the employees and medical staff at St. Michael's Hospital Avera. The team at St. Michael's provides exceptional care  for the residents of Bon Homme County, and I am looking forward to being a part of this work on a daily basis.

Top priorities: The first year at St. Michael's will be focused on development of relationships, learning about the community and how St. Michael's supports the healthcare needs of the region. In working with the board of directors, we will be establishing a strategic plan with priorities on work needed to sustain and grow the health ministry over the next three to five years.

Richelle Webb Dixon, named senior vice president and COO of Froedtert Hospital (Milwaukee): The Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin health network is an outstanding healthcare system, and I am most excited about the opportunity to work with such a talented team at Froedtert Hospital and to continue to connect the communities we serve to the best of academic medicine. Southeastern Wisconsin trusts us as their healthcare partner, and I am humbled to help lead an organization that is responsive, innovative and conscientious of our responsibility to serve those in need. Working with our talented team to transform healthcare and demonstrate excellence in all we do, I am excited about the possibility to revolutionize our industry.

Top priorities: Froedtert Hospital provides exceptional care to the community. As I become acclimated to the hospital and health system, my goals are to continue the legacy of patient care and academic medicine while ensuring that we manage our costs appropriately. I will continue the journey to provide affordable, high-quality care to all the communities we serve. As we navigate through these challenging times, I want to ensure we continue to be responsive to our patients, staff and physician partners; thoughtful in our offerings and approach to delivering safe clinical care and continue to create an inclusive and compassionate environment. My ultimate goal is to build upon the great groundwork that has already been established to ensure we maintain our mission of advancing the health of the communities we serve through exceptional care enhanced by both innovation and discovery.

Kathleen Kinsella, named president of OSF HealthCare Little Company of Mary Medical Center (Evergreen Park, Ill.): I am both humbled and blessed to be a part of OSF HealthCare during this time of transformation. We have seen an extraordinary amount of change in just six months' time, but through all of this change, our commitment to our patients and our mission has not wavered. We are celebrating the 90th anniversary of our Catholic healthcare ministry in Evergreen Park, Ill. Since opening our doors in 1930, the hospital has grown to help countless families who have found hope and healing during the critical stages of their lives. We are going through what some would call a Renaissance period, where we remain laser-focused on innovation as well as strengthening healthcare in Southwest Chicagoland. As we celebrate and reflect on our rich history, we also look to our future and the continued — and even new — ways in which we can provide Catholic healthcare to our community.

Top priorities: The OSF HealthCare team is focusing on repositioning OSF Little Company of Mary Medical Center's competitive and experiential positions. As such, we will focus on designing customized services for local residents. We will deliver convenience and service to younger populations, as well as work to build prominent programs and services. We will use innovation to expand the delivery platform, develop tailored solutions and build a new experience for patients, providers and partners. We've expanded options for care and are taking extra cleaning and disinfecting precautions to ensure our patients and mission partners (employees) remain safe. I truly believe that medicine is both an art and a science. OSF puts the heart in the art of medicine and the innovation and research into the science. 

Liz Smith, RN, promoted to chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services at Franciscan Children's hospital (Brighton, Mass.): I am really excited to continue my work in empowering front-line staff and involving them in decision-making. I've learned how important it is as a leader to listen and develop strategies based upon the priorities of what staff need to deliver exceptional care to our patients. I'm grateful for the opportunity to build upon existing relationships and broaden my scope to positively influence the care we provide to children with complex medical and mental health needs.

Top priorities: My first and most important priority is to gain a full understanding of what staff need from me to feel supported, engaged and equipped to provide exceptional care to our patients. Based on feedback, I will develop a strategic plan with goals for the first year and then beyond.

One immediate goal is to engage staff in a shared governance model. The model is led by front-line staff, with support from leadership, to make decisions influencing clinical practice, professional development, quality and safety.

Finally, as a leader of many years, I understand the importance of relationships. I look forward to building relationships with staff throughout the organization to build a foundation of trust and allow for open communication allowing us to reach our greatest potential.

Barb Weber, MSN, RN, named COO of UnityPoint Health-Trinity (Rock Island, Ill.):  I'm most excited about partnering with our talented leaders and team members to provide our patients with the best care possible, our physicians the best environment to practice and our team members the best place to work. I'm impressed with how committed and dedicated our team and community partners are to improving the health of the community during COVID-19.

Top priorities: Within the first week of assuming my role as COO, we implemented incident command. As the incident commander, the top priority was to operationalize our surge capacity plans, manage our resources and continue to provide a safe environment for our patients, physicians and team members. Moving forward, the priorities continue as above, as we resume elective procedures and our strategic initiatives. In addition, (we plan on) continuing our partnership with the community as we focus on meeting the ongoing health needs of our community.


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