Dr. Arby Na­hapetian, 39

Vice pres­i­dent of med­i­cal af­fairs and qual­ity Glen­dale (Calif.) Ad­ven­tist Med­i­cal Cen­ter

Modern Healthcare - - UP & COMERS - —Dar­ius Tahir

Dr. Arby Na­hapetian took a cir­cuitous route into health­care and qual­ity man­age­ment.

He be­gan his stud­ies as an eco­nomics ma­jor at UCLA, grad­u­at­ing in 1995. While his ini­tial in­ter­est was in macro­eco­nomics, he found him­self drawn to pub­lic health be­cause of one class—virol­ogy and vac­cine de­vel­op­ment. From there, Na­hapetian pur­sued a master’s in pub­lic health at Yale, fo­cus­ing on epi­demi­ol­ogy.

That prompted him to seek an in­tern­ship with the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion, where he worked with Dr. David Hey­mann of the U.K., a pi­o­neer in stud­ies of treat­ments for Ebola.

At the WHO, Na­hapetian fo­cused on emerg­ing in­fec­tious dis­eases in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa and South Amer­ica, and in par­tic­u­lar meningo­coc­cal menin­gi­tis. That ex­pe­ri­ence pushed him deeper into health­care. Na­hapetian re­calls Hey­mann telling him, “Arby, if you want to take this thing se­ri­ously, you have to go get a med­i­cal de­gree.”

“That was the im­pe­tus,” he said. Na­hapetian chose car­di­ol­ogy/elec­tro­phys­i­ol­ogy be­cause he felt it was a field rich with data, where could be in­volved in ev­i­dence-driven out­comes and re­search.

Seven years into his ca­reer, how­ever, he wanted to re­turn to do more work on his orig­i­nal pas­sions—pop­u­la­tion health and pub­lic health. That led him to Glen­dale Ad­ven­tist, where he be­came vice pres­i­dent of med­i­cal af­fairs and qual­ity in Au­gust 2012.

Kevin Roberts, CEO at Glen­dale Ad­ven­tist, said his orig­i­nal con­cep­tion of the job changed as a re­sult of hir­ing Na­hapetian. Pre­vi­ously, the role did not in­clude a qual­ity-man­age­ment com­po­nent, but Roberts felt that Na­hapetian, given his back­ground, would be a good fit for the ex­tra du­ties. Roberts cred­its Na­hapetian’s ef­forts with a num­ber of qual­ity im­prove­ments, in­clud­ing re­duc­ing the sep­sis mor­tal­ity rate at the 515-bed hos­pi­tal, from a high of 25% to 13.8% now.

Roberts be­lieves the im­prove­ments come from Na­hapetian’s abil­ity to in­ter­act with physi­cians, nurses and other clin­i­cians, though Na­hapetian at­tributes the hos­pi­tal’s suc­cess to dili­gence through­out the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Qual­ity, he said, needs to “re­main on ev­ery­one’s pri­or­ity list. It’s not a one-off project you do for a year.”

FIRST JOB: Cashier at a toy store. A DEEP IN­TER­EST: Likes to go “shark div­ing”— scuba div­ing to see sharks. In­cludes trips to French Poly­ne­sia and the Caribbean; hopes to visit South Africa soon. MUL­TI­LIN­GUAL: Be­sides English, he’s flu­ent in Span­ish, French and Ar­me­nian, and “strug­gles” in Ger­man.

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