Ad­vanc­ing change, di­ver­sity

Modern Healthcare - - SPECIAL FEATURE -

Michael Wa­ters led his or­ga­ni­za­tion through sev­eral trans­for­ma­tions in health­care man­age­ment dur­ing his nearly quar­ter-cen­tury as CEO at Hen­drick Health Sys­tem in Abi­lene, Texas, where he served from 1980 to 2004.

“Gosh, 1980 was a dif­fer­ent planet al­most,” he says with a laugh, tick­ing off a quick list of changes since then that in­cludes merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions, ver­ti­cal and hor­i­zon­tal in­te­gra­tion, the switch from fee-for-ser­vice to man­aged care, and tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances from the first Ap­ple desk­tops to sys­temwide elec­tronic health-record sys­tems. “We built new build­ings. We added new tech­nol­ogy. We moved to a com­pletely new fi­nanc­ing sys­tem.”

The 325-bed Hen­drick ex­panded its trauma cen­ter, la­bor and de­liv­ery, re­hab and heart-re­lated ser­vices while adding open-heart surgery and con­tin­u­ing to re­model its 1920s fa­cil­ity dur­ing Wa­ters’ ten­ure.

“We saw many, many changes from es­sen­tially a hospi­tal in­side four walls to a health sys- tem that had all kinds of in­ter­est­ing busi­nesses that re­lated ver­ti­cally and hor­i­zon­tally,” he says.

Wa­ters, 69, this year’s Life­time Ser­vice Award win­ner from the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Health­care Ex­ec­u­tives, has en­joyed a nearly half-cen­tury-long re­la­tion­ship with ACHE since he was ac­cepted as a stu­dent af­fil­i­ate mem­ber while at­tend­ing the Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh Grad­u­ate School of Public Health in 1965. To­day, he men­tors stu­dents through the Dal­las-fort Worth chap­ter’s pro­gram.

As gov­er­nor from 1994 to 1999 and serv­ing in the lead­er­ship se­quence, in­clud­ing the chair­man­ship, from 1999 to 2002, Wa­ters says he worked most ac­tively to di­ver­sify the or­ga­ni­za­tion and bring in more women and mi­nori­ties as well as more re­gional af­fil­i­ates.

“That would be the con­tri­bu­tion I would like to be re­mem­bered for at the col­lege,” he says.


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