Steer­ing sys­tem’s turn­around

Modern Healthcare - - SPECIAL FEATURE -

When Alyson Pitman Giles be­came pres­i­dent and CEO of CMC Health­care Sys­tem in Manch­ester, N.H., 13 years ago, she in­her­ited an or­ga­ni­za­tion los­ing $6 mil­lion a year.

It of­fered only an emer­gency room, one med­i­cal-sur­gi­cal unit and an open-heart surgery pro­gram. No sig­nif­i­cant cap­i­tal or pro­gram­matic im­prove­ments had been made in about seven years, and staff morale had de­te­ri­o­rated along with the phys­i­cal plant.

As she stepped down from her post in early 2012, Cmc—with flag­ship 233-bed Catholic Med­i­cal Cen­ter—had grown from about 600 to 2,100 em­ploy­ees, more than quadru­pled in size from 166,000 to 706,000 to­tal square feet, quin­tu­pled in gross rev­enue from $15 mil­lion to $75 mil­lion, earned the des­ig­na­tion as one of the top car­diac-care hos­pi­tals in the coun­try ac­cord- ing to Healthgrades, added a can­cer cen­ter from Dart­mouth Col­lege and added a spe­cial-care nurs­ery in which fam­i­lies could stay with their ba­bies.

“My legacy is bring­ing CMC back from the wreck­ing ball, if you will, to a first-class med­i­cal cen­ter,” says Giles, 58, who be­gan her pro­fes­sional life as an oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist be­fore get­ting onto an ex­ec­u­tive track that in­cluded stops as pres­i­dent of Lake Shore Hospi­tal, a psy­chi­atric fa­cil­ity in Manch­ester, and pres­i­dent and CEO of New London (N.H.) Hospi­tal.

“I un­der­stand the busi­ness clin­i­cally,” she says. “I’m also a mother of two chil­dren and two stepchil­dren. I al­ways kid (the staff) that I lead as a mother—i’m hugely en­cour­ag­ing, I give tons of au­ton­omy, I like to have a lot of fun and laugh. But don’t for­get that I’m still the mother, and if you mis­be­have, I will know about it.”

Giles takes great pride in the men­tor­ing she’s done for other women lead­ers, three of whom are now CEOS. When she started out, “I was told at the time that a woman wouldn’t be ac­cepted as a COO,” she says. “Now, I don’t think it makes any dif­fer­ence what your gen­der is, as a COO or CEO.”

Giles, who has re­ceived the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Health­care Ex­ec­u­tives’ Gold Medal Award for a health­care de­liv­ery or­ga­ni­za­tion, was a New Hamp­shire re­gent for the ACHE be­fore be­com­ing a gov­er­nor from 2004 to 2006 and then served in the na­tional lead­er­ship track, in­clud­ing serv­ing as chair, from 2006 to 2009.

“For me, it was just a life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in get­ting to know lead­ers through­out the coun­try, whom I con­sider to be friends,” she says. “You get so com­fort­able get­ting to know peo­ple from all walks of life, all over the coun­try.”


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