Director, Health Systems Partnership, Syapse
Volunteer, Communications Committee
A Q&A on Her Volunteer Experience
- How and why did you get involved with CTAHE?
I graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1982. To be considered for a branch transfer to the Medical Service Corps, I had to first serve two years in a combat arms. So, I initially was a Field Artillery Officer in Target Acquisition for two years in West Germany. I was an aerial forward observer, an Executive Officer for a headquarters battery, and a target acquisition officer updating the World War II German maps for the American and German Armies. When selected for the Medical Service Corps, I was assigned to an American military hospital in Germany. I became a member of the ACHE while a young first lieutenant while stationed at that hospital in 1984. My colonel advised me that if I wanted to succeed as a hospital administrator, I needed to become a Fellow in the ACHE. He said that the ACHE would connect me with resources, ongoing education, and peers who could enrich my knowledge and understanding of hospital administration. It was some of the best advice that I was given in my career.
I moved to the state of Connecticut in 2007, as a Senior National Account Executive with WellPoint, (Anthem and Empire BlueCross BlueShield) and transferred my ACHE membership to the Connecticut Chapter. As a West Point graduate and ACHE Fellow, I feel that I should “play it forward” and volunteered for the Membership Committee. I then was part of the joint Communications and Membership Committee, and now the Communications Committee.
- What makes this volunteer experience a meaningful use of your time?
My career has spanned being an Army Medical Logistics Officer in a hospital and then running an Army Medical Depot; to pharmaceutical sales; hospital administration in a pediatric specialty hospital, teaching, and community hospitals; long term care administration setting up and running one of the first New York State Managed Long Term Care Plans for dual eligibles for a senior health system; self-insured health plan account executive for a large national health plan working with Fortune 500 companies to develop custom clinical models of care to achieve the triple aim of healthcare; hospital consulting sales for GE Healthcare; and population health software sales for a joint venture of GE Healthcare and Microsoft. I now work at Syapse, a software company that is focused on precision medicine for oncology working with health systems in the Eastern region of the United States.
Each of my volunteer experiences has provided me insights, contacts, and ongoing education. I have a professional network of associates and friends that I met through the ACHE, other volunteer activities, and through the course of my career. Each of those contacts has enriched my life and given me a better understanding of the healthcare industry. Additionally, all but two of my jobs were through professional contacts that recruited or referred me to those positions. So, I would highly recommend CTAHE for young healthcare administrators beginning their careers, if for nothing else but the networking. In addition to CTAHE, I am Co-Chair of the national HIMSS Population Health Task Force for the Clinical & Business Intelligence Committee; a Consumer Advocate for the CT SIM’s VBID Initiative; a Fairfield CERT (Citizen’s Emergency Response Team) and American Red Cross DAT (Disaster Action Team) member; and am responsible for the kayak program for the Community Sailing of Fairfield program.
- What has been your most rewarding experience at CTAHE?
To date, I would say that working on the CTAHE website with the Communications Team has been the most rewarding. It is still a work in progress, but it is great to see the advancement of our chapter and to work with our CTAHE Communications team.
- What have you learned since volunteering with CTAHE? Has your perspective changed?
The state of Connecticut is very competitive and the health plans and systems in the midst of consolidation and streamlining. CTAHE and the Connecticut Hospital Association are the two organizations that bring together healthcare professionals from across the state. Of the two organizations, CTAHE is the best poised to bring together healthcare professionals from across the healthcare ecosystem – hospitals and health systems; physician practices, mental health and long term care facilities; health plans; veteran’s affairs; healthcare vendors, consultants, and staffing agencies. Each of CTAHE members brings forth a different perspective and insights on how we can better provide care to our communities. Our CTAHE educational and networking events builds bridges and connectivity across the healthcare ecosystem, which is much needed in our state to truly achieve the Triple Aim of Healthcare.
- Do you have any ideas about what can be done to improve the volunteer experience at CTAHE?
I think the biggest challenge is engaging the wide spectrum of CTAHE members. It would be great to increase and have a higher level of participation by the membership. I think that volunteering to help at CTAHE may be daunting for some because they don’t know what is required of being a CTAHE volunteer. My advice is that you can volunteer and participate to the extent you are able. I travel a great deal for my job. Most of our CTAHE Communication Team meetings are by phone, which I can attend even while traveling in another state.
I think that we at CTAHE should reach out to the other healthcare professionals across the state, regardless of the type of healthcare ecosystem stakeholder. In this era of transformation, enhanced connectivity across organizations will help us all both professionally and personally.
I would also like to promote CTAHE Mentor Program. I was mentored by a colonel in the Army, who was a Fellow in the ACHE. In my graduate program, I had a three month internship at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia under the President and CEO, who was also a ACHE Fellow. He advised me to start in my career in hospital administration in a department that generated revenue, like Radiology; then to pursue a position running multiple clinical departments; and then become a COO or Vice President leading an initiative. I followed his advice. An ACHE Regent and senior leader at Danbury Hospital recommended that after working at the senior health system, I should get some managed care experience at a health plan to round out my resume and then come back to the hospital. I moved to WellPoint and was there for ten years. I didn’t go back to the hospital, not because I didn’t miss hospital administration. Working with large corporations with hundreds of thousands of employees and their family members across multiple states, it was rewarding striving to improve the access to quality care, developing what would become population health programs that focused on wellness and improving the management of chronic and high cost care patients. What I most value of our industry and the ACHE is we each want to make a difference in the lives of others. There were many more ACHE Fellows and members that helped guide and shape my career. Don’t underestimate the power of mentoring another healthcare professional.
- What advice would you give to someone that is interested in becoming a part of CTAHE and this industry?
My advice is to raise your hand to volunteer and experience a collaborative atmosphere that is supportive, friendly, and top-notch. As a longstanding member and volunteer with CTAHE, I have grown both professionally and personally through my participation in the association. I have a 26 year old son that studied abroad for his undergraduate degree, is pursuing his MBA at night at UCONN, and is working full-time for a staffing agency focused on biopharma, health systems, and engineering/manufacturing firms. The advice I gave him was to jump in and attend ACHE and other health industry events wherever possible. It is a great way to meet and engage with people in the healthcare industry, gain a better perspective of their success metrics, and better understand the healthcare ecosystem overall. CTAHE members are first and foremost interested in learning more and sharing their insights with others. I recently took my son to an ACHE event. I was his “wingman” and did my best to introduce him to healthcare executives at the event. He walked away with a number of contacts he could help find a new position and others that might hire his firm to perform their staffing. My son was amazed at how open and engaging the people were at the ACHE event. Everyone was exchanging their current projects, interests, and very interested in determining how each party could assist the other. That is what the ACHE and CTAHE is all about….connecting with other healthcare professionals to advance the delivery of healthcare and promote both personal and professional growth.