Sarah Pacini, 39

Vice pres­i­dent of risk man­age­ment and in­surance Ad­vo­cate Health Care, Down­ers Grove, Ill.

Modern Healthcare - - UP & COMERS - —Bob Her­man

Sarah Pacini be­gan her health­care ca­reer as a nurse, and it fit well with her up­bring­ing.

She grew up on a farm with her fam­ily in Low­ell, Ind. Pacini de­vel­oped an affin­ity for the out­doors and the cows, chick­ens and ducks that roamed around. She pre­ferred to care for an­i­mals and neigh­bors in­stead of watch­ing TV, which her fam­ily didn’t have.

“I’m not a per­son you’d want to play Triv­ial Pur­suit with,” Pacini said, laugh­ing.

After work­ing for a cou­ple years as an emer­gency depart­ment nurse, she be­gan to think more broadly about the health­care de­liv­ery sys­tem. Pacini be­came a nurse con­sul­tant for a med­i­cal mal­prac­tice firm, en­joy­ing the work of por­ing through med­i­cal records, find­ing if the high­est stan­dards of care had been met. And then it hit her. “I wanted to be a nurse-at­tor­ney,” Pacini said. After re­ceiv­ing a law de­gree from DePaul Univer­sity Col­lege of Law, Chicago, she set her sights on meld­ing her clin­i­cian train­ing with a fu­ture of ed­u­cat­ing hos­pi­tal staff about per­ti­nent reg­u­la­tory, li­a­bil­ity and qual­ity is­sues.

Pacini serves as vice pres­i­dent of risk man­age­ment and in­surance at Ad­vo­cate Health Care, the largest sys­tem in Illi­nois. She has been with Ad­vo­cate for more than a decade, help­ing to in­still a cul­ture that says putting pa­tients first will re­sult in bet­ter care and fewer le­gal risks.

And it’s paid off so far. Since Pacini started at Ad­vo­cate, the num­ber of med­i­cal li­a­bil­ity law­suits and the av­er­age pay­ments of law­suits have dropped by 50%.

For Dr. Lee Sacks, Ad­vo­cate’s chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer and Pacini’s di­rect su­per­vi­sor, Pacini’s suc­cess has been grounded in her abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate the im­por­tance of re­duc­ing le­gal risk and how it’s linked with pa­tient safety and cost-ef­fec­tive care. Pacini formed Ad­vo­cate’s risk pur­chas­ing group, which gives physi­cians the abil­ity to ne­go­ti­ate lower med­i­cal li­a­bil­ity pre­mi­ums.

“The glue be­hind all of this is build­ing per­sonal re­la­tion­ships,” Sacks said. “She’s built re­la­tion­ships inside the or­ga­ni­za­tion so there’s bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion and trust, and so risk is not looked upon as the gotcha po­lice.”

Pacini be­lieves her im­pact within Ad­vo­cate is aug­mented by her clin­i­cal cre­den­tials. “With the dual back­ground, some­times it’s eas­ier to de­liver a mes­sage,” she said.

FIRST JOB: Cake dec­o­ra­tor at a lo­cal bak­ery. “I had taken the Wil­ton cake dec­o­rat­ing course and en­joyed the op­por­tu­nity to be cre­ative.” FA­VORITE FOOD: Lou Mal­nati’s deep-dish mush­room and pep­per­oni pizza, well done. GO-TO HOB­BIES: Golf and stained glass. “Th­ese are best done sep­a­rately, of course.”

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