June 28, 2012

Clinical enterprise well prepared for future challenges: Balser

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Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., speaks at Tuesday's Clinical Enterprise Leadership Assembly. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Clinical enterprise well prepared for future challenges: Balser

Borrowing from the popular “IGBOK” (It's Gonna Be OK) bumper sticker, Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, summarized his address at the summer Clinical Enterprise Leadership Assembly on Tuesday with a simple phrase: “Vanderbilt’s Gonna Be OK.”

In anticipation of major, impending cuts in health care reimbursement, Vanderbilt University Medical Center met its goal to cut operational expenses by $50 million this year, but “without compromising our mission,” said Balser.

By working harder and smarter, Medical Center employees were able to reduce costs while achieving an increase in hospital discharges, ambulatory visits and surgical operations, and significant improvements in measures of patient safety, quality and satisfaction.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this has been a hard year,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs and CEO of the Vanderbilt Health System. “But we achieved the results we had to get. All the work paid off.”

Balser and John Manning Jr., Ph.D., MBA, associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs and chief administrative officer for VUMC, honored four employees who they said demonstrated the kind of leadership that is moving Vanderbilt forward.

Manning presented the Five Pillar Leader Award to Freddie Easley, assistant director for Facilities and Operations.

Easley’s commitment to the five pillar goals of the clinical enterprise — people, service, quality, growth and finance and innovation — makes him “one of the most effective leaders at Vanderbilt,” Manning said.

Balser presented Credo Awards to three individuals who he said exemplified the “credo behaviors” of service, respect, effective communication, professionalism, a sense of ownership and commitment to colleagues:

• Kim Nielsen, program coordinator for the Junior League Family Resource Center at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt;

• Diana Phillips, senior executive secretary in the Center for Professional Health; and

• Saralyn Williams, M.D., associate professor of Clinical Medicine and of Clinical Emergency Medicine.

“They remind us what it means to work at Vanderbilt,” he said.

Balser and Traci Nordberg, associate vice chancellor and Chief Human Resources Officer, introduced a “Leadership Credo,” a list that encourages the continued development of essential leadership skills.

“You will be called upon more and more to utilize these skills,” Nordberg said.

In a keynote address, executive coach Richard Kilburg, Ph.D., compared the economic challenges facing academic medical centers to a tsunami.

“You’re always sailing in stormy water,” he cautioned his audience. “You always have to pay attention to the fact that the boat can be swamped.”

For more information, go to the elevate website.