What makes a strong CNO-CFO-CIO partnership? 3 community hospital leaders weigh in

The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred an immense amount of communication and collaboration within the healthcare industry on a local and global level. 

Three community hospital executives from Norfolk, Neb.-based Faith Regional Health Services discussed these collaboration efforts during an Oct. 12 session of the Becker's Community Hospitals Virtual Forum "How do the CNO, CFO and CIO work together during this pandemic."

Panelists included:

  • Connie Rupp, MSN, RN, vice president and chief nursing officer
  • Brian Sterud, vice president and CIO 
  • Johnathan Wilker, vice president of finance and CFO 

Here is an excerpt from the conversation, edited for clarity. To view the full session on-demand, click here.

Question: What are the characteristics of a strong CNO-CFO-CIO partnership, especially during times of crisis like the pandemic?

Connie Rupp: You've got to have a strong team to start with, because then it makes it easier going through the tough times. Thankfully we have a very, very strong team, and it's not just at the executive level, but really at all levels in our organization. We have a strong mission and values here at Faith, and that really gave us a good foundation on which to face these challenging times. We work hard, but we also have fun, and we celebrate as we've gone through this, and we've taken those needed breaks when we've needed it. 

There are days where certain members of our team are more challenged than other members. Today was a great example. I was having problems with my computer, and they just rose to the occasion to help. You never feel like you're alone. Sometimes you can feel that way. Not here, and I think our strong start is what has propelled us forward and made us successful through this.

John Wilker: I appreciate the fact that each of us has our particular roles, strengths and areas of expertise, but there's a lot of respect and support across those lines. We're doing budgets, for example, right now, and Connie has been really good about holding her directors accountable, not only to the clinical side, but to the business and financial side. And Brian has been great with his team to make sure that we've got the resources to support nursing and clinical, along with the financial side. And he's holding his own teammates accountable for that.

I think the other thing we talked about is the humor and the stress relief. We like to poke fun at each other when we're together. Sometimes we kind of get carried away with the whole group text thing and the emojis, but that's what we need to keep going, communicate and help each other when we're having maybe a little bit more stress than normal. So I really appreciate that from everybody.

Brian Sterud: I think we do a nice job of making sure that when we're interacting, we're managing each other up, and that helps build cohesiveness. This also helps lead to my second point, which is one message. We can disagree; we can "duke it out" a little bit behind closed doors. Once we arrive at a decision, we move on and present one united message from the team. And you know what? Even if we need to revisit that, or even if we need to go back and disagree again, I think we have healthy disagreement. But again, as it relates to messaging to the rest of the organization, it's that one message, and I think that makes a big difference.

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