ROB BROOKS, 40
Chief operating officer and executive vice president Erlanger Health System
Rob Brooks’ pursuit of an intellectual challenge and the chance to help others is the thread that ties together an otherwise diverse healthcare career.
Brooks began his career in healthcare after witnessing a car accident as a cadet firefighter. The experience was formative: Brooks went on to become an emergency medical technician, critical-care nurse and flight nurse.
But he was intrigued, too, by the challenges and opportunities to improve operations. Brooks veered into management and brought with him an ability to work closely with doctors and nurses, a valuable skill that has improved ambulatory and hospital operations for his employers, including Erlanger.
“He has a better understanding of the patient, a better understanding of physicians,” said Kevin Spiegel, CEO of Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Erlanger. Brooks interacts well with doctors and understands “what makes their lives easier, what makes their lives more difficult.”
Spiegel worked previously with Brooks and recruited him to Erlanger, where Brooks aided the development of the Erlanger Regional Operations Center, which coordinates ambulance and emergency air traffic across 11 Tennessee and three Georgia counties, as well as referrals to Erlanger hospitals.
Brooks acknowledges he misses working in clinical care and the opportunity to save lives, but says his work now supports doctors and nurses who do life-saving work.
“He has a better understanding of the patient, a better understanding of physicians.” —Kevin Spiegel, CEO