Detroit Receiving Hospital CEO Dr. Iris Taylor reflects on her 40-year career

Iris Taylor, PhD, RN, will retire from her post as CEO of DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital March 27. Dr. Taylor has been an integral leader of Detroit Medical Center for the last 40 years, and her many contributions to the system have been invaluable.

Dr. Taylor's career at DMC began in 1975 as head staff nurse at DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital and University Health Center until a series a promotions landed her in the role of director iris taylorand vice president of nursing services. In 1999, Dr. Taylor became senior vice president of patient care and CNO of the DMC system. She held this role until 2002 when she was named president of DMC Harper University Hospital and Hutzel Women's Hospital, then later appointed as DMC's chief business officer.

For nearly the last decade, Dr. Taylor has called DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital her home once again. During her tenure as CEO, the hospital has undergone many changes. In 2010, before it was purchased by Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanguard Health Systems purchased the DMC system. As part of the agreement, Vanguard agreed to invest an estimated $350 million for routine capital improvement and an additional $500 million specific capital projects during the first five years of ownership. As CEO, Dr. Taylor guided DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital through an expansion of its service lines beyond emergency care to include geriatrics, urology, neurosurgery, palliative care and other specialties.

Reginald J. Eadie, MD, has been selected to succeed Dr. Taylor.

Dr. Taylor shared with Becker's Hospital Review some of her greatest accomplishments, fondest memories, most important lessons and advice for young executive leaders of hospitals and health systems.

Question: What has been your biggest accomplishment during your tenure?

IT: The accomplishment I'm most proud of from my time at DMC is helping to transform DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital from a community hospital patients knew best for emergency care to a hospital with numerous specialties while maintaining one of the world's busiest emergency departments. We have transformed from a nonprofit hospital to an investor-owned hospital while reinventing healthcare to meet the needs of the patients and their families. As we developed specialties of care, I also take pride in the fact we continued to implement robust community health programs for the citizens of Detroit. Some specific accomplishments at Detroit Receiving I'd highlight include the orthopedics program, the Rosa Parks Geriatric Center, the senior ER, our professional development and mentoring program, the River Walkers program and the diabetic screening program.

Q: Looking back at your years at DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital, what has been your fondest memory?

IT: The people on this team will always remain in my heart. I have many fond memories of the people I have encountered throughout the years. I have truly enjoyed the leadership, support and dedication of countless coworkers and comrades. Some of my fondest memories are mentoring individuals to become nurses. I am grateful for my many professional and personal relationships that have formed over the years — Detroit Receiving has truly been my second family and home.

Q: What's the most important lesson you've learned?

IT:The biggest lesson I've learned during my career is that it is truly the little things that count most. The nuances add up over time and define a person's character. Paying attention to details helps establish consistency — the little things tend to brand you. They are your signature and set standards for success, providing a solid foundation so your employees know what to expect. Paying attention to those things has helped the leadership team at Detroit Receiving establish a platform for compliance surveys and environmental quality that have earned awards. Being focused on the intangibles has helped us deliver healthcare services at an unprecedented level of excellence.

Q: If there is anything you could change or re-do, what would it be?

IT: There is always opportunity for improvement, and looking back I have ideas to pass along to the current team to keep up from where I left off. I would advise those who lead the hospital to continue to strive to be innovative. There are many designs to reach similar results or solutions, but more effectively. Hindsight is 20/20. However, I am happy with my career and the legacy I established during my tenure.

Q: What piece of advice would you give new hospital or health system leaders?

IT: Listen. Always be mindful of your surroundings. Listen to your employees, to your patients, to the community and listen to your heart. Invest in your surroundings. Demonstrate corporate citizenship by focusing on investments in the community and by supporting the constituents we serve.

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