How long have you been a part of ACHE?
Joining ACHE was something that my mentor, Todd Caliva, encouraged me to do. I’ve been involved in committees and events for the past 20ish years.
What has been one of your most memorable moments in ACHE thus far?
Passing the Board of Governors’ Exam when I was 9 months pregnant! Todd and I studied together each week and I was determined to pass that test before my baby arrived, and she’s 15 now! I had been avoiding caffeine so I celebrated with a trip to Starbucks! A close second is my recent election to the Regent position. I’m thrilled and humbled to represent our awesome region in the American College of Healthcare Executives.
Tell us more about your background.
I’m one of shrinking number of Houstonians who are native to Houston. I grew up on the east side (Baytown area) and have been blessed to work my entire healthcare career in this great city! I received my undergraduate degree in Marketing from University of Houston-Clear Lake and went straight into graduate work, earning my MBA in 2002. I’m blessed to have worked with HCA Healthcare for 23 years (starting in a clerical position and working my way up while going to school and taking advantage of HCA’s tuition reimbursement program).
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love hanging out with my husband, Wesley, and our two teenagers, Fisher and Claire. We enjoy sporting events, restaurants, and theater (I’m a proud member of the Advisory Board of Houston’s Alley Theater). We also enjoy high school football (my daughter is on the drum-line, playing bass drum). We have a lake house on Toledo Bend Lake where we spend most of our free time, relaxing in the Piney Woods. My family roots are in East Texas and this is the lake where I caught my first fish. I still love to perch jerk with a box of worms!
I also love to garden and grow lots of veggies depending on the season. Right now, I’ve got a bumper crop of home grown tomatoes. Traveling is another favorite pastime, Egypt was our destination this year but COVID has pushed that back to next year. We love to snow ski too!
You have had an amazing career so far. Can you share a defining moment with us?
Unfortunately, my late husband passed away suddenly due to a medical error in early 2015. My children were 9 and 11 at the time. I had to tell them that Daddy wasn’t going to get better and we should donate his organs. This was a defining moment in my life, certainly as a mother, but also as a healthcare executive. As I learned more about the events leading up to my late husband’s death, I became more focused on ensuring that I led the charge for patient safety in my organization. I want to avoid other families feeling such an incredible loss.
In your experience, what’s the best part of being a leader in healthcare?
I love being a hospital CEO and getting to influence the care received by our patients and the compassion received by their families. One of my favorite parts is also getting to shape the future of healthcare leaders. Throughout my career, there were a handful of people who took a chance and gave me “a leg up.” I make intentional effort to do the same for the next generation of healthcare leaders and love having the opportunity to mentor folks as they progress in their careers. Some of my proudest moments are watching their successes and cheering them on!
So much has changed in healthcare in recent months. How has COVID-19 shaped your focus at work?
Obviously COVID-19 has changed many things about the way we approach the care we provide. Our number one priority has been to keep our patients and employees safe and to keep our employees working. I’m very proud of the industry-leading efforts HCA Healthcare has put forth to accomplish both of these priorities. One of the biggest leadership challenges during COVID-19 has been to manage the pace of our team. Healthcare team members are driven and will sacrifice themselves to care for others. This has forced me to find ways to ensure that our teams have time to breathe and to have fun at work. We created relaxation rooms and had fun celebrating National Banana Day! COVID-19 has also changed my focus at home. My mom won’t hug me without being covered with a sheet as she’s in the at-risk category, but I can’t pass up those hugs!