Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Meet Lisa Valentine, Summerville Medical Center’s new CEO.
Valentine’s quiet, personable demeanor belies a smoldering energy and intensity of purpose. She is relaxed but focused. Every bit of information is relevant, every action important.
“My short term goals are to basically learn as much as I can about the hospital, the people here, the community,” she said.
Valentine said she has learned much in a short amount of time – she took the helm at SMC about two months ago – but she is always seeking input, information, perspective.
Valentine has seen many facets of the healthcare industry. She graduated from the University of Florida and worked for 10 years as a physical therapist, a job she said she really loved. However, after 10 years on the clinical side she decided to set her sights on a different aspect of healthcare and returned to school at Virginia Commonwealth University to earn her master’s degree. She would then land a job with Henrico Doctors Hospital in Richmond, Va., starting as an assistant administrator and eventually working her way up to Chief Operating Officer, then Interim CEO before coming to Summerville, she said.
“I loved the clinical side, and I do miss the daily feedback and patient interaction I got from that,” she said. “However, what I have found is that as an administrator I have this unique opportunity to have a positive impact on a larger scale — I can concentrate on creating an environment where doctors and staff can really excel in all areas of patient care.”
Valentine believes her clinical background is extremely important to her skill set as an administrator and encourages all who would aspire to management in healthcare to either start their careers on the clinical side or at least work in some clinical capacity – even volunteering - to gain that insight.
“I think you really need that experience as part of a foundation to develop strong leadership, especially in healthcare,” she said.
One point Valentine returns to is the level of expertise and commitment to patient care SMC exhibits, she said. That was one of the first impressions she got when she arrived, and her time here has only deepened that impression on her.
“The depth and complexity of services SMC has is very impressive,” she said. “It is really unique for a hospital this size to have the expertise and complexity of services we have here. And the level of commitment to patient care is second to none.
“Everyone here is very committed to that.”
To that end, she is committed to seeing through the building of the new medical office building as well as continuing to build upon the success of the services already offered at SMC, she said. Other mid-range goals include aesthetic improvements to the facility as well as revisiting a proposed addition of a patient care tower that would add some 30 beds to the hospital.
Valentine has experience in such projects; as COO of Henrico, she was responsible for strategy development, physician relations, and operations of a 340-bed acute care hospital. She oversaw the multi-campus enterprise of three hospitals, two ambulatory surgery centers and a free-standing emergency department and she led the development of a new 95,000–square–foot medical office building, recruited and integrated more than 50 primary care and specialist physicians and successfully led the team to obtain a Virginia Certificate of Need for a $78 million hospital expansion.
A major part of the CEO’s job, Valentine notes, is building relationships. That means getting to know staff at all levels, talking to patients and their families, meeting people in the community, reaching out to civic leaders and elected officials.
And that’s exactly what she has set out to do, she said.
“When it comes right down to it, a lot of leadership is really listening skills,” she said. “That’s what I try to do. I want perspective; I want input.”
But ultimately, it all comes back to a sense of service, a love of patient care, and a desire to make a positive contribution.
“My perspective is that it’s a real privilege to be in a place where I can positively impact lives,” she said.
“I think most people who get into healthcare as a profession are motivated by that sense of service.”