Celebs, ex­ecs to the res­cue

Modern Healthcare - - SPECIAL REPORT - —Paul Barr

You never know who you might see jump­ing out of an am­bu­lance to pro­vide emer­gency care. It could be a rock star, a for­mer teen heart­throb or even a hospi­tal ex­ec­u­tive. David Lee Roth, the on-and-off lead singer for hard rock­ers Van Halen, made head­lines back in the 2004 for his work as an emer­gency med­i­cal tech­ni­cian in New York City. Bobby Sher­man, a chart-top­ping singer and heart­melt­ing ac­tor from the 1960s and ’70s, has be­come known for his sup­port and par­tic­i­pa­tion in emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices. Sher­man even es­tab­lished and sup­ports a foun­da­tion that helps not-for-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions need­ing emer­gency-care backup.

Less well-known is the fact that a num­ber of health­care ex­ec­u­tives work or have worked as cor­po­rate suit by day and a life-sav­ing EMS worker in their off hours. Chris Van Gorder, pres­i­dent and CEO of four-hospi­tal Scripps Health, based in San Diego, works as an EMT for the San Diego County Sher­iff’s Depart­ment and is a com­mis­sioner for the Cal­i­for­nia Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices Au­thor­ity. “It’s my al­ter ego, I guess,” Van Gorder says.

He got into EMS af­ter a work in­juryin­duced re­tire­ment from his job as a po­lice of­fi­cer, Van Gorder says. Though Van Gorder al­lowed his EMT cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to lapse for a while, he has been re­cer­ti­fied for about 10 years now and vol­un­teers as a re­serve com­man­der in search and res­cue in Cal­i­for­nia and also serves on Scripps’ own med­i­cal re­sponse team.

“It gives me a chance to con­nect with pa­tients (in a way) that I might not oth­er­wise do,” Van Gorder says. Not­ing that his re­cer­ti­fi­ca­tion can en­tail work­ing in ERS of Scripps hos­pi­tals, it means ER nurses get to tell him what to do, and they love that, he says.

Marc Gold­stone is an­other health sys­tem ex­ec­u­tive with a back­ground in EMS. Cur­rently vice pres­i­dent and as­so­ci­ate gen­eral coun­sel for a re­gional di­vi­sion of Com­mu­nity Health Sys­tems Pro­fes­sional Ser­vices Corp., Franklin, Tenn., Gold­stone says he be­gan work­ing in EMS as a vol­un­teer EMT in the Ocean Grove (N.J.) Fire Depart­ment. He later in­creased his sta­tus to that of para­medic and worked as a mo­bile in­ten­sive-care para­medic. Af­ter law school, he took a job as in-house coun­sel for Mon­mouth Ocean Hospi­tal Ser­vice Corp., an EMS co­op­er­a­tive in New Jer­sey.

He serves on a fed­eral EMS com­mit­tee, though he says he let his cer­ti­fi­ca­tion lapse in 2002, as New Jer­sey’s re­quire­ments were be­com­ing dif­fi­cult to main­tain. “It was one of the most dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions I had to make,” Gold­stone says. (Wil­liam Hussey, pres­i­dent of op­er­a­tions in a dif­fer­ent re­gional di­vi­sion of CHS, worked as a para­medic while in col­lege.)

Bob Mur­phy, a speaker and se­nior leader for the Studer Group and a for­mer hospi­tal CEO, worked as an EMT un­til about a yearand-a-half ago, he says. He first got into EMS as an am­bu­lance dis­patcher in New York, and even­tu­ally worked as an EMT and nurse in a va­ri­ety of roles but even­tu­ally gave up EMS work as sched­ul­ing be­came dif­fi­cult.

Nev­er­the­less, he says, “It’s still in my blood and that’s why I main­tain my li­cense.”

Chris Van Gorder, left, pres­i­dent and CEO of Scripps Health, at work dur­ing a searc­hand-res­cue call. “It’s my al­ter ego, I guess,” Van Gorder says of his role as an EMT.



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