Henry Ford Allegiance Health CEO Paula Autry on the importance of strengthening community health

In July, Paula Autry stepped into the president and CEO role at Henry Ford Allegiance Health in Jackson, Mich. She is also senior vice president and CEO of the central market for Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System. Here, she discusses her plan for leading Henry Ford Allegiance Health, the need to focus on community health and the three words that translate to leadership results.

Editor's Note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What are some of the key challenges facing your facility today?

Paula Autry: The primary challenge facing Henry Ford Health System, and Henry Ford Allegiance Health specifically, is to continue our growth within our region, which is comprised of eight counties in South Central Michigan. Our hospital's home base of Jackson, along with its surrounding communities, are at the region's center.

Our vision is to be the trusted partner in healthcare in every community we serve. Further, we challenge ourselves to continue to grow in reputation as a nationally recognized leader in superior care and value. Our patients deserve our absolute best.

Q: What are the strategies you are implementing to ensure your facility continues to thrive?

PA: Henry Ford Allegiance Health is in the early stages of navigating its second century of community-centered care. We have a wealth of opportunities before us, making it critical to be strategic as we implement plans for growth and sustainability. We will continue to seek partnership projects that improve value to the community and ensure the right level of care is provided with quality and convenience. These plans also include a continuation of our focus on IT solutions that will elevate decision-making and communication. Overall, we aim to energize systems for efficiency and effectiveness in order to achieve strong results.

As for me personally, one of my strategies in my new role is to follow the example of strong leadership demonstrated by Henry Ford Allegiance Health's prior president and CEO, Georgia Fojtasek. Over her 30-year tenure, Georgia solidified a cohesive team and made remarkable strides in transforming our organization and its culture. I greatly respect Georgia's enduring legacy and am excited to work alongside my new team to build on the momentum previous successes have set in motion.

Q: What excites you most about healthcare today?

PA: I'm most excited about improving the health status of the communities we serve. My interest in healthcare grew out of my early experiences with an older sister who had neurofibromas, a type of nerve tumor. Through the teachings of my parents, my siblings and I were raised with an appreciation for the need to improve the health of our neighbors, friends and family because it is as an important aspect of strengthening our community overall. As a result, I feel a deep, personal sense of responsibility to community. I understand the needs of my new hometown are great, and to me, that means there are significant opportunities for us to make an impact.

Q: What is the best piece of leadership advice ever given to you?

PA: The best advice I received as a leader can be encapsulated in three common words that, when put into practice, can bring uncommon results: persistence, preparation and prayer.

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