Corner Office: The question Trinity Health CEO Mike Slubowski asks himself regularly to stay on track

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As president and CEO of Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health, Mike Slubowski said he is passionate about employee and patient safety, boosting patient access to care and addressing inequities in healthcare.

Mr. Slubowski has served as president and CEO of the 25-state, 90-hospital Catholic health system since July 2019.

Before becoming CEO, Mr. Slubowski served as Trinity Health's president and COO. He also was president and CEO of Broomfield, Colo.-based SCL Health, president of hospital and health networks for Trinity Health, and served in leadership positions at Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System.

Here, Mr. Slubowski answers Becker's Hospital Review's seven Corner Office questions.  

Question: What's one thing that really piqued your interest in healthcare?

Mike Slubowski: I grew up in Detroit, and never even thought about healthcare until talking to my uncle, who was a surgeon at Henry Ford Health System, and he encouraged me to consider healthcare. I started in the finance department and moved into healthcare operations within a year. A Catholic healthcare opportunity came in 1990, and I've never looked back. Working in this vocation has given me the opportunity to serve others in a meaningful way, and that's something that has always called me. I credit my mentors and God's grace that led me to land to exactly the place I needed to be in healthcare. 

Q: What do you enjoy most about Michigan?

MS: While I've lived and worked in other states, I've always found my way home. To be able to live and work here and serve the community that's made me who I am is beyond rewarding. The state is rich with history and has so much to offer in terms of spending time outdoors in different seasons, and my family and I are grateful to call it home.

Q: If you could eliminate one of the healthcare industry's problems overnight, which would it be? 

MS: Removing inequities and barriers to quality healthcare and social services. There are so many barriers — especially for those who are poor and underserved. The link between healthcare services and social influencers of health requires drastic transformation. Addressing structural racism and inequities is critical. The ability to afford and obtain health insurance, cost of care just to name a few. In addition, we need to shift from a provider-centric mindset to a patient/member focus. Our Trinity Health brand promise is to listen, partner and make it easy for those we serve. We are making progress but have a long way to go to fulfill that promise. If there was something I could fix overnight, it would have to be making sure that I could help every person in our country receive the quality, culturally sensitive care and social services they need in a way that's affordable and easy to navigate.

Q: What is your greatest talent or skill outside of the C-suite? 

MS: In my spare time, I lean into music to revitalize my energy. I love guitars, both playing and collecting, which I have done for years. I've also written articles about guitars and co-sponsor a guitar website. As much as I love collecting guitars, the best part is the comradery with others who love playing music — mostly classic rock.

Q: How do you revitalize yourself?

MS: Facetime and periodic face-to-face visits with my three granddaughters and twin daughters and going for walks with my wife, Barb, would be tops on the list. Music, reading and all things related to information technology are also ways I revitalize myself. Health and well-being are so important — today more than ever. I exercise daily and have been working to keep my weight under control.

Q: What's one piece of advice you remember most clearly?

MS: I can't share just one piece of advice, since I've had many amazing mentors. Be a servant leader, empower people and support them, but also let them grow through challenging assignments and learn through mistakes. Keep moving forward. And revisit your personal mission statement periodically. The most important things for me are faith in God, love of family and friends, good health, happiness and service to others. Those serve as litmus tests that I revisit often to see if I've wandered off. Finally, one of my wise mentors once told me to regularly ask myself "are the communities you serve better off as a result of your work?"

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievements at Trinity Health so far? 

MS: My greatest achievement would be hiring and supporting great leaders, both for our regional health ministries and system services. Making safety a core value and advancing our Zero Harm initiative for colleague and patient safety is a personal passion. Any of the work we've done to make healthcare more accessible and equitable gets me excited. 

We launched It Starts Here, a vaccine education campaign targeting underserved communities. Our work to put a common clinical platform in place (TogetherCare, powered by Epic) is taking care and the patient/member experience to the next level. Our Home Care Connect program provides 24/7 monitoring and access to nursing, and I'm proud of how quickly we ramped up telehealth for patients during COVID-19 and continue improving these services. Expanding our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and advancing many initiatives to address structural racism is also important.

But more than anything, I'm proud of the culture we are building at Trinity Health. Our people choose Trinity Health because they believe in a higher purpose and resonate with being part of a faith-based ministry. They know they are part of something special, an organization that is improving the health of our communities in so many ways. Here — they know they make a difference in people's lives every day — and that is really incredible.

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