Esteemed philosopher and former baseball great Yogi Berra might say Michelle Hornberger’s career path in the mid-’90s presented her with the proverbial “fork in the road” as she mulled choices between pursuing medical school and working as a hospital administrator. And she took it. Hornberger’s fondness for science brought her to Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, where she completed an undergraduate degree in biology and medical technology. She later gained experience as a medical technologist at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. Despite her success, she wasn’t sold on that career focus.
Hornberger recalls when she made her decision to switch to administration. She ultimately realized that insurance companies can hinder a doctor’s ability to deliver care, and that she could better utilize her talents serving in executive roles.
“I remember speaking with some physicians. There was frustration—they were going and getting an incredible education and being taught how to treat the patient, only to be told by the HMO and insurance company what they could and couldn’t do in terms of what would be covered,” she says. “I really didn’t want to go that route.” She soon found herself enrolled in the Master of Health Administration program at University of Michigan. And while she says her imagination occasionally drifts through the different career paths she could have taken, the 39-year-old says she’s more than pleased with the outcomes of her choices. Since 2006, she’s served 244-bed Crittenton Hospital Medical Center as chief strategy officer. She’s also the chief operating officer at Crittenton Home Care, a post she took last year. “I’ve been very happy with the choices I’ve made,” Hornberger says. “Fortunately, I’ve been fairly lucky that other people also thought those choices were worth it.”
Before Crittenton, she served as an associate in strategic planning at Genesys Health System in Grand Blanc, Mich., which is an affiliate of the Catholic system Ascension Health. She also worked as assistant director of corporate planning for Beaumont Hospitals, Royal Oak, Mich.
Though she’s worked at larger companies and hospitals in bigger communities, Hornberger says she’s up for the different challenges at Crittenton. One of her biggest accomplishments was launching a marketing campaign in 2007, which helped increase the hospital’s previously dwindling market share.
“We don’t have as deep pockets as many of the other health systems, so we have to be as savvy as we can with the dollars we have,” she says.
“I’ve been very happy with the choices I’ve made. ... I’ve been fairly lucky that other people also thought those choices were worth it.”
39, chief strategy officer, Crittenton Hospital Medical Center, Rochester, Mich.