Please tell us a little about your background and how you got into healthcare.
I am a native Houstonian from a big Italian family and have deep roots in Houston. I did both my undergrad and my MBA at the University of Houston. I also played golf for U of H on a golf scholarship during my undergrad. My first exposure to healthcare was during college when my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. We spent that difficult year going to the hospital and talking with many doctors and nurses. I realized during that time how powerful the healthcare team is and the impact it has on families. I decided then that I wanted to be a part of healthcare. I got my start by joining a small system here in Houston doing business development and working my way up into administration before they sold to Columbia/HCA back in the late 90’s. I have been a part of HCA ever since.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I honestly don’t have a lot of free time, but when I do I enjoy spending time with my two daughters, Sophie and Cara, and our new granddaughter Remi. Remi has been a joy and a blessing to our family! I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend, Christi, and playing as much golf as I can in my free time.
What was the best piece of advise you received from mentor during your career?
The best piece of advice I ever received from a mentor was, to ALWAYS put the best interest of our patients at the forefront of every decision. We MUST have a patient-first mentality.
What is the biggest challenge you face currently in healthcare leadership?
This has been the most challenging year of my career. Dealing COVID and all the anxiety of our team and our patients has been really difficult. The uncertainties that came with COVID and how to best deal with it and treat it also contributed to the anxiety. We are now dealing with staffing challenges across the city and state because many of our healthcare workers have taken traveling assignments to other parts of the county, which has led to staffing challenges. These staffing challenges are exacerbated by our demand going up, as well as the acuity of our patients increasing. I am hopeful we will see many of our nurses return to Houston as the COVID numbers continue to decrease across the country.
What is your favorite thing about being a healthcare leader in Houston?
I love Houston healthcare and being in the biggest medical center city in the world. We have so many talented healthcare leaders and many I have come to know and call my friends. While we are a very competitive market, I really feel our collective main concern is providing world class care and service to all our patients. This is what I enjoy the most! I also enjoy having the ability to influence healthcare in our city. I take this role and responsibility very seriously, as this is what all our patients deserve in our facilities across the city. I am very proud of Houston healthcare; we have some of the strongest healthcare systems who are all committed to world class care and service. I am also very proud of how our healthcare systems came together to better deal with the COVID challenges.
Other than the advise mentioned above, what is one piece of advise you would give to an early careerist?
Have strong values and integrity and NEVER compromise them! Lead by example; people are always watching you and we as leaders need to always put the patient first and foremost! Always be willing to take on additional projects and get as much experience as you can. Never be afraid to ask for help and have a great mentor who you can go to for advice. This is the most rewarding profession, and one we should all be very proud of. Don’t be afraid to be relentless in the pursuit of delivering world class care and service to our patients!
-Interview by Laura Gomez