What 30 hospital CEOs told Becker's in 2019

Cost control. Gun violence. Patient safety. Innovation. Diversity. Hospital CEOs this year discussed these topics and countless others with Becker's, offering up experiences, advice and insight on the reality of hospital leadership today. 

Here are 30 quotes that hospital CEOs shared with Becker's in 2019: 

Editor's note: Quotes are listed in alphabetical order by hospital or health system. Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

Boston Medical Center Health System President and CEO Kate Walsh
"Since I began at Boston Medical Center, I have also made it clear that all of our clinicians and staff have a direct line to me. They give me direct feedback on things that I should consider and share inspirational messages about the incredible work being done across our campus — and I make sure to respond to each and every one!"

Children's Hospital Los Angeles President and CEO Paul Viviano
"You can think about things, you can know about things, and you can talk about things, but at the end of the day what matters most is what you do to make a difference. Discussion and debate are important to any process and should never be rushed, but process should not keep you from moving forward with decisive action."

Children's Hospital of Michigan CEO Luanne M. Thomas Ewald
"New cures and life-changing care advancements for children with complex medical needs is the most exciting part of healthcare today. The most worrisome part of healthcare today is the pediatric behavioral health crisis and the lack of access to pediatric health specialists."

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia CEO Madeline Bell
"[As] a leader, people are always watching you. They're listening to you, they look at what you wear, what you say, your body language. I think that leaders sometimes forget that people watch them, not just when they're on, but all the time."

Children's Minnesota President and CEO Marc Gorelick, MD  
"Don't underestimate the power of a note of appreciation to people who don't expect it."

ChristianaCare President and CEO Janice Nevin, MD
"[O]ur ability as an organization to talk about what love means in healthcare has been transformational and extraordinarily powerful. It's love that allows you to have hard conversations, make harder decisions and make the changes that are hard to make in order to impact the health of the people we serve."

CommonSpirit Health Co-CEO Lloyd Dean
"We believe everyone deserves access to affordable, quality healthcare. Our goal is to create healthier communities and improve how, where and when we deliver health services. In the end, we want to ensure we are reflecting the opportunities we have in the communities we serve."

Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health CEO Dr. Joanne Conroy
"I tell people that an MD does not mean major deity. It's a privilege to receive a medical degree, and it doesn't make you better than other people."

Detroit Medical Center President and CEO of DMC's adult central campus Audrey Gregory, PhD, RN
"There are still some obstacles in convincing diversified candidates to work toward transitioning to the C-suite. One, in particular, is finding mentors and sponsors who will help them map their path and follow through with them on their journey. It takes dedication and intentionality, and that is not always present."

Florida Medical Center and Tenet Health's Miami-Dade Group CEO Jeff Welch
"Building energy and camaraderie within your team is so important in healthcare, because we have tough jobs. I always tell people that nobody coming into our building is typically having a good day, and it's up to us to make a difference. We should be honored to have that opportunity."

Geisinger CEO Jaewon Ryu, MD
"We are not going to innovate for innovation's sake but innovate to solve problems facing our patients and members. The end for us has always got to be making health easier. That's what drives me and sparks the 'innovation bug' in me, if you will."

HealthPartners CEO Andrea Walsh
"I think gratitude and focusing on the little things is really important for leaders. From my vantage point, it's important to focus on things that need to be fixed and where you want to head, and it's important to be appreciative of the things that are going right. We have to find the right balance between those two."

Henry Ford Allegiance Health President and CEO Paula Autry
"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."

Keck Medicine CEO Tom Jackiewicz
"I realized over time that being successful as a CEO is to be able to work very quickly and transition quickly from issue to issue."

LifePoint Health CEO David Dill
"I am working on being more effective about scheduling a margin in my calendar for more time to think and explore new ideas. I really admire leaders who have built that margin into their schedules, and it is something I am working to mirror."

Missouri Hospital Association CEO Herb Kuhn  
"Those five stages of grief — where there's denial, anger, bargaining, depression and then acceptance — you see all those things on full display when you close a rural hospital. It is remarkable. I don't think people fully understand and grasp how important they are in these communities."

Nemours Children's Health System President and CEO R. Lawrence Moss, MD
"'Never make a statement when you can ask a question.' There's a lot in that little statement. I think it says something about the importance of respect for others, the value of curiosity and open-mindedness, and the power of humility. When I can stay in that mindset, I know I'm at my best."

Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling  
"True leadership means having the personal courage to speak out and take the heat, particularly on issues that are affecting the health and wellness of our communities. If there was a disease that was killing as many people as guns in this country, we would be mobilizing a national response effort. It's inexcusable for us to remain silent."

OSF HealthCare's Children’s Hospital and children's service line CEO Divya Joshi, MD
"Time is a very precious resource. Time enables or disables communication between people, and we all know that leadership is all about communication. The day's schedule has to accommodate the freedom to enable interpersonal communication."

Providence St. Joseph Health, Southern California Region CEO Erik Wexler
"The most important piece of advice I have gotten was [this]: No matter who calls you or writes to you, respond to them within 24 hours or less. If you do that, it will show them the respect that they deserve and boost their opinion of you and in your professionalism."

Rush University System for Health and Rush University Medical Center's former CEO Larry Goodman, MD
"How any of us acts at an overnight town hall meeting or on the phone with someone complaining about their experience is as important as how we present at a board meeting or to the press. We will be judged, and reasonably so, on the sum of all of our behaviors."

Scripps Health CEO Chris Van Gorder
"Healthcare is always going through a lot of change, and sometimes employees, managers and even physicians think we are making those changes because somebody in administration decided it's the right thing to do. The reality is, we're reacting to what's changing in the marketplace or what we believe will be coming in the marketplace. If we don't adjust fast enough then it will negatively affect our organization and employees."

Sentara Healthcare CEO Howard Kern
"Health systems must invest in geography, capital and talent to achieve the scale at which symbiotic growth strategy can be executed effectively. Over time, the investment will result in a loyal, strong consumer based that is satisfied with their access and delighted by their experience in the managed care, digital and ambulatory settings."

Stanford Children's Health and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford President and CEO Paul King
"When I was a kid, and we lived in Nebraska, my mom used to always tell my brothers and me to take a jacket with us when we were walking to school. That advice has taken on broader meaning as I grew older, as I understood the wisdom she was trying to impart to us, of always being prepared for unforeseen circumstances."

St. Luke's Health System President and CEO David Pate, MD
"Probably the most important [leadership lesson] is that culture really does start at the top, with me and the board, but I have to make sure that every leader is driving the kind of culture we want in their departments and areas."

Tampa General Hospital President and CEO John Couris
"As far as I’m concerned, jerks need not apply to positions within my organization. Personally, I would much rather work with a less experienced person who is kindhearted and receptive to training than an arrogant jerk, any day of the week."

UnityPoint Health CEO Kevin Vermeer
"Working at home is a reality of this job, so I'll often play catch-up at night, but I try to keep it reasonable — for my family and myself. If my team members feel compelled to work at home, I encourage them to set limits, too."

University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics CEO Suresh Gunasekaran
"I'm a big believer in management by wandering, so I will often leave my office a bit early and pop into different departments on my way to a meeting."

WVU Hospitals and WVU Health System CEO Albert Wright
"I think visibility is important, but I think you have to be visible in a way that you're comfortable with. So I do two things. I do skip-a-level meetings every week, which is when I'll go and I'll meet with the direct report of one of my direct reports at their place of work."

Yale New Haven Health's Northeast Medical Group CEO Dr. Prathibha Varkey
"I prefer to be at the practices, where I believe the magic happens, instead of in meeting rooms."


More articles on leadership and management:

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Booker unveils long-term care plan 
St. Luke's CEO Dr. David Pate: 4 takeaways on the latest ACA ruling

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