Advancing change, diversity
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.