Celebs, execs to the rescue
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.