The corner office: Children's Hospital Colorado CEO Jena Hausmann on 20+ years devoted to fixing a broken system

Jena Hausmann was drawn to healthcare after seeing firsthand how its many deficiencies adversely affected the care of a close relative. After nearly two decades of experience in hospital administration, Ms. Hausmann remains committed to her goal of helping improve the quality and delivery of U.S. healthcare.

Prior to being appointed CEO of Children's Hospital Colorado May 1, 2015, Ms. Hausmann served in the role in an interim capacity for five months. She first joined the hospital in 2004 as vice president of strategic planning and network of care operations and in 2008 was promoted to COO. She added the title of president in 2011.

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Ms. Hausmann has played a key role in the pediatric hospital's growth throughout her tenure. She led the development and execution of the organization's strategic plan over the last five years, including the Children's Colorado's Network of Care strategy, which ensures families in Metro Denver, southern Colorado and throughout the Rocky Mountain region have access to the hospital's services.

Before joining Children's Hospital Colorado, Ms. Hausmann worked at Fairview Health System in Minneapolis. She started as an administrative fellow before quickly rising to senior management at Minneapolis-based University of Minnesota Medical Center.

In addition to her current role as CEO, Ms. Hausmann is on the board of directors for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, as well as the boards for the Colorado Hospital Association and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. She holds a master's degree in healthcare administration from the University of Minnesota and bachelor of arts degree in political science from Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

Here, Ms. Hausmann took the time to answer Becker's seven questions. 

What's one thing that really piqued your interest in healthcare? 
My interest in healthcare started when my grandfather was dying of cancer and going through the system. I became very interested in end-of-life care processes, ethics and philosophies — or lack thereof. I was struck by how people nearing the ends of their lives were treated with such a lack of dignity and respect in the healthcare industry.

Today I carry that passion for how to improve the death and dying experience, and how to support people's dignity in that process.

What do you enjoy most about Colorado?
Colorado is an extraordinary place to live. You can't beat the climate or the scenery. You can be in a major metropolitan area, then 90 minutes later be in some of the most beautiful parts of nature in the country. And I love the spirit of the people of Colorado — they're highly collaborative, innovative and there is just a thriving energy.

If you could eliminate one of the healthcare industry's problems overnight, which would it be?
Regulation. Healthcare is one of the most regulated industries, and the rules are often old, archaic and conflicting with one another. They create waste, inefficiencies and costs, and they really inhibit our ability as an industry to innovate and transform the care delivery system the way we need to best serve our patients.

What do you consider your greatest talent or skill outside of the C-suite? 
I'm not sure if this is a talent, but I'd say it's being a mom of a 16-year-old daughter, 14-year-old son and eight-year-old son. Parenting is the most important thing that I try to be intentional about. It's very different as a working mother at the executive level. I can't always look for a large quantity of time with my children and family, but I can make quality time.

How do you revitalize yourself?
I'm a big believer in the rejuvenating capabilities of sleep. I also practice yoga, meditation and snuggle time with my family. After a long, tough day, there is nothing better than a hug and hearing the words, "Welcome home, mommy," or "I love you." I enjoy nothing more than snuggling with my kids, reading them a book or tucking them in. That brings me positive energy.

What's one piece of advice you remember most clearly?
Don't be afraid to fail. If you fail, fail quickly and make sure you learn from it. Most importantly, make sure you grow from it. That advice came from the first CEO I reported to directly, a dear mentor of mine at the University of Minnesota Medical Center in the Fairview Health System. We were in the middle of an extraordinary merger and it felt like we were failing on a daily basis. But he was so good at helping us realize that setbacks were part of the process. If we got too hung up on failure we would fall into a downward spiraling attitude that would have affected our ability to lead. We had to be resilient and learn from it.

What do you consider your greatest achievement at Children's Hospital Colorado so far?
It's been a decade in the making. Children's Hospital of Colorado is an integrated system that touches children in all 50 states, as well as around the world. I'm most proud of our growth as a regional and international provider, as well as our research and science that's advancing pediatric medicine and our training of the next generation of pediatric professionals.

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