Emerging leaders honored for their service to ministry

July 1, 2014

Eight recognized for leadership qualities


Across the Catholic health ministry, young leaders with a passion for the mission are honing skills to help guide the ministry in the future. CHA celebrates up-and-comers who show strong leadership capabilities and a personal commitment to Catholic health care with its Tomorrow's Leaders recognition. The eight 2014 honorees spoke with Catholic Health World about the paths and sensibilities that led them to careers in Catholic health care.

Philip Anderson
Director of Spiritual Care, Sacred Heart Hospital, Eau Claire, Wis.

Philip Anderson first began to appreciate the significant role of faith in grief when as boy he lost, in quick succession, a beloved grandmother and a great-aunt. The funerals and grieving processes "really had a key imprint on who I am as a person," he said. Those experiences and others also helped him see "there was a tremendous power in how health care personnel can shape an experience for someone else, and help them create meaning out of a death, that otherwise could be perceived as a total loss."

While earning his bachelor's degree at Southern Methodist University and then his master's at Yale Divinity School, Anderson prepared for a ministry of serving others and honed in on his interest in health care chaplaincy. He was a chaplain at Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka, Ind., from early 2008 until he joined Sacred Heart Hospital of Eau Claire, Wis., in 2011, as director of pastoral care. He now heads the Center for Spiritual Care at the hospital, directing the hospital's work in ethics and pastoral care and helping to ground staff, physicians and leaders in Sacred Heart's Catholic identity.

Anderson, 34, said he values the opportunities he has to help people — including staff, patients and family members —
"realize that they have strength they didn't know they have through their spirituality … I think people very much underestimate their own ability to cope with life's challenges."

Taryn Duckett
Director of marketing and communications, Mercy Home Health and Mercy LIFE, Philadelphia

Taryn Duckett said she has enjoyed a sense of higher purpose in her public relations and marketing career since joining Mercy Home Health and Mercy LIFE at Mercy Health System of Southeastern Pennsylvania in late 2009.

Mercy LIFE is Mercy's Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly. Duckett, 35, makes the region's low-income elderly population — particularly those dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid — aware of P.A.C.E. and other services available to allow seniors with significant medical problems to remain in their homes and community. She and her team do this through strategic marketing, lectures, public relations campaigns, branding campaigns, commercials, newsletters, special events, tours and other promotional initiatives. She said she shares with people how Mercy provides its clients with the services that promote spiritual, emotional and physical well-being.

On her own initiative, while seeking Lean Six Sigma certification, Duckett ran statistical analyses of Mercy Home Health operations and has made recommendations that have improved the referral system and the continuum of care for Mercy patients and that have helped the Mercy system capture hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue by keeping patients within the Mercy system.

According to Carol Quinn, chief executive of Mercy Home Health and Mercy LIFE, Duckett "stands behind the mission to provide compassionate, quality care to the underserved. Taryn radiates what it means to be a leader in the health care ministry."

Kelly Gasior
Vice president of strategy and housing operations, Trinity Senior Living Communities, Livonia, Mich.

Throughout her career, Kelly Gasior has worked in what she says some people outside of health care might think of as "God forbid" industries: "God forbid my child ends up in a children's hospital," "God forbid I need to be treated in a cancer institute," and, now "God forbid I end up in a nursing home."

Since joining Trinity Senior Living Communities in 2006, Gasior, 40, has worked to improve the senior living facility experience and how it is perceived. According to Ken Robbins, president and chief executive of the Trinity Senior Living Communities — which operates 37 senior communities in six states — Gasior was originally charged with building the company's brand in a marketing and strategy role, but from the outset, she took on additional responsibilities.

Gasior has worked internally and with vendors and partners to improve residents' dining experience, including through the creation of a pureed food program using fresh, appealing food. She also has created programs to improve residents' quality of life including one that encourages residents of senior housing complexes to socialize.

Before Gasior joined the organization in 2006, occupancy was around 80 percent across Trinity Senior Living Communities' facilities; it currently is around 92 percent. Trinity Senior Living Communities attributes much of that improvement to changes Gasior has made, including putting in place an effective sales team to attract residents to the facilities.

For Gasior, improving the facilities is personal, because she has met and built relationships with many of the facilities' residents. "The people we serve are valued members of society who have done so much for us. They deserve beautiful places to live out their days," she said.

Dr. Babak Goldman
Regional medical director for the department of palliative medicine, Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, Burbank, Calif.

A diagnosis of cancer or a progressively debilitating chronic condition can cause high anxiety for patients and their loved ones.

Very early in his medical career, even prior to pursuing a palliative care specialty, Dr. Babak Goldman realized he was "good at helping patients and families understand what's going on, and that takes some fear away. With data and information, they can have a plan, they can have a goal, and this helps families and patients focus on something and feel they're being listened to." Goldman became head of Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center's palliative medicine department in 2012.

Not all clinicians are good at communicating with patients who have chronic pain or progressive or terminal illness. Goldman and his team of four — including a nurse, chaplain, social worker and coordinator — educate Providence Saint Joseph clinicians and staff on the value of palliative care and about how to best communicate and work effectively with people with a serious chronic illness, and their families. Goldman and his team also work to improve operations including by supporting patients in making palliative care choices, so that it is easier for patients to access palliative care.

Dr. Wayneider S. Anand, division chief of pulmonary medicine for Providence Saint Joseph, said under Goldman's directorship, palliative care referrals have increased from about 425 annually to about 1,000 annually at the hospital; patient satisfaction has increased; and the length of stay in the intensive care unit has decreased. Goldman said this is in part because more patients may forgo aggressive care after they have had discussions about long-term goals.

These changes are "a reflection of Dr. Goldman's compassion and caring attitude when speaking to patients and families about difficult decisions," Anand said.

Sarah Hetue Hill
System manager of palliative care initiatives, Ascension Health, St. Louis

As part of her research for her master's degree thesis, Sarah Hetue Hill listened to palliative care patients and their families describe what palliative care means to them. She heard many say "they felt cared for as a whole person." She said, "This opened my eyes to the type of care that should be delivered."

Hill, 33, is working to ensure that palliative care is holistic care throughout Ascension Health, where she directs palliative care initiatives, and beyond. At Ascension Health, she crunches data to determine how to improve palliative care measures, convenes work teams across the system to adapt palliative care programs for best outcomes, sells the benefits of palliative care to leaders and staff and helps Ascension Health facilities adopt best practices in palliative care. Beyond Ascension Health, she shares expertise on improving palliative care quality with national organizations including the Supportive Care Coalition, the National Quality Forum, the American Society on Aging and the Center to Advance Palliative Care.

Hill considers palliative care an essential health care service, and she wants to dispel the notion that it is cost-prohibitive to provide. Hill said, "As part of my role I talk to leaders about our vision and the strategic imperative for palliative care. I've shown how palliative care helps meet the demands of health care reform. I work with leaders and hospital staff to increase their understanding of what palliative care can do," including improving patient satisfaction and outcomes and decreasing unnecessary readmissions.

According to Ascension Executive Vice President of Mission Integration Sr. Maureen McGuire, DC, "Sarah is now recognized nationally as a speaker, a strategic thinker and advocate in one of the most sacred dimensions of our Catholic health ministry."

Aimee Khuu
Director of Providence Health International, a program of Providence Health & Services, Renton, Wash.

As a young woman volunteering to help poor immigrant workers in Washington state years ago, Aimee Khuu learned that in order to provide meaningful, lasting aid, people must immerse themselves in the lives of those they want to help.

This insight is at the heart of her approach now as she coordinates Providence Health & Services' global health development and relief. Khuu, 29, has directed the program since joining Providence Health & Services in 2012. She explained that "it is essential in doing this work, to see people's struggles and show that we're working alongside them and learning from their rich histories and how they approach their lives. We can be better advocates for them and be strong in our own work."

The international ministry provides medical supplies and carries out initiatives to improve health care and health status, supporting clinicians and staff members' travel to other countries to address health needs. Providence Health International's current focus is Guatemala.

The programming Khuu has implemented aims to get at the root causes of serious health problems in Guatemala and to create sustainable impact. Providence has provided clean-burning stoves to Guatemalan families to give them an alternative to cooking over open indoor fires, which can cause and aggravate respiratory illnesses. Providence volunteers have completed hundreds of life-saving surgeries on impoverished Guatemalans and staffed a village medical outreach team.

Providence leaders estimate that the mission trips and other aid efforts Khuu has coordinated have enabled hundreds of Providence staff and clinicians to serve in Guatemala and have impacted the lives of more than a thousand Guatemalans.

Michael Kramer
Vice president of operations, Mercy Health-West Hospital, Mercy Health, Cincinnati

While in college to become a nurse, Michael Kramer befriended a hospital administrator. Kramer learned from his exposure to the man's work that administrators "can help large populations of people versus helping individual patients." The realization swayed him to switch career paths and study the business side of health care.

After working at Pricewaterhouse-Coopers as a consultant early in his career, Kramer joined a hospital within Cincinnati-based Mercy Health in 2002 and has been serving in administration at facilities within Mercy since, including in finance, planning and strategy. During his tenure at Mercy, Kramer, 37, has helped orchestrate mergers and acquisitions, identified how to address gaps in care access effectively, overseen strategic partnerships, evaluated physician recruitment strategies and developed new programs and offerings.

He was instrumental in planning and developing Mercy Health-West Hospital of Cincinnati, which opened last fall. Michael Stephens, market leader and president of Mercy Health West Market, credits Kramer's success to servant leadership. Stephens said this quality was evident, when, just before West Hospital's opening, Kramer "did whatever needed doing to ensure the hospital was clean and ready to accept patients … The operating rooms were the biggest challenge, and Michael didn't hesitate, jumping in to clean, mop floors and scrub walls for several evenings prior to opening."

Stephens said Kramer's "passion and commitment shine through in everything he does."

Edgardo Reyes
Manager, IT medical imaging, Saint Anthony Hospital, Chicago

For Edgardo Reyes, age 36, heading the IT medical imaging department at Saint Anthony Hospital is not just about technology, it's about "working with our staff, physicians and vendors so that for the patients we're seeing, their experience is a simple and easy process with no delays."

He said it's important to "recognize the person before you is a person — this is not just a job."

Serving in information technology roles since he joined Saint Anthony in 2006, Reyes currently is responsible for the development and functioning of the hospital's medical imaging systems. This includes ensuring radiologists can access and process the images quickly and efficiently, from virtually any location. Saint Anthony President and Chief Executive Guy A. Medaglia said Reyes "uses technology to help save lives, getting images to radiologists faster so that physicians can start treatment sooner."

Medaglia said Reyes has succeeded as a leader because "he is an outstanding problem-solver who seeks out input and advice from others, always looking for ways to improve care to patients and enhance processes for physicians."

Reyes grew up in Saint Anthony's "backyard," in the majority Hispanic community on Chicago's southwest side and lives there now; he is active in that community's St. Agnes of Bohemia parish. He sees himself in some of the young people working at Saint Anthony — and particularly those from the local community. He said he tells some of these workers to be bold in thinking "of where opportunities might lead, to think further down the line."


Copyright © 2014 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2014 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.