October 11, 2002

Ekdall tapped for newly created Children’s Hospital leadership position

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Ekdall tapped for newly created Children’s Hospital leadership position

Phyllis Ekdall was recently appointed to the newly created position of Chief Operating Officer, Vanderbilt Medical Group (VMG) Children’s Services. Ekdall assumed her new role on Sept. 16.

The responsibilities of the position will be broad, encompassing not only the clinic operations, but also the clinical activities of the faculty members of the department of Pediatrics and the pediatric surgical subspecialties.

Additionally, Ekdall will be responsible for overseeing the transition of pediatric ambulatory services to the new facility.

“The hiring of Phyllis as COO for Children’s Services and Director of Administration and Finance for the department of Pediatrics allows us to consolidate management of clinical services into one position,” explained Dr. Arnold W. Strauss, James C. Overall Professor of Pediatrics and chair of the department. “Phyllis’s expertise in financial management and contracting will provide a strong basis for growth in outpatient services in the new Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.”

Ekdall sees the successful opening of the new clinics, with minimal disruption of patients, as one of her immediate goals. To see that goal realized, she plans to work closely with the physicians and staff from each of the clinical specialties.

“There’s still a great deal of work to do in regards to planning the operational aspects of the new outpatient tower as well as the logistics that go into occupying a new building,” Ekdall said. “The orchestration of the move itself is a phenomenal sequence of events that have to be perfectly timed.”

Prior to her selection as the first COO of VMG Children’s Services, Ekdall served as the Director of Finance for Vanderbilt Medical Group, including the approximately 800-physician group practice. While she provided broad financial leadership for the group, she was most recognized for leading significant improvements in the physician revenue cycle. In her new role, she will be more focused on operations, but will also utilize her extensive financial background

“I still plan to concentrate attention on financial discipline,” Ekdall said. “I want to make sure that we are operating in the most cost-efficient way that will yield the best result long term.

“I also want to focus on the outreach efforts of the hospital and physicians of the community,” she added. “In reality, we have to grow the business and that comes through reaching out with quality patient care and excellent customer service.”

David R. Posch, VMG chief operating officer, believes that Ekdall’s experience and her understanding of issues facing physicians will ensure her success in the new position.

“Phyllis, through experience and talent, will bring insight and energy in supporting all physicians in the clinical practices and developmental aspirations,” Posch said.

VCH CEO Jim Shmerling was impressed by Ekdall’s background in service management as well as her existing relationships with pediatric staff.

“This newly formed position is perfectly aligned with the continuum of pediatric services that we’re developing in our new Children’s Hospital,” Shmerling explained. “Phyllis is the ideal candidate because she has already developed a wonderful rapport with our pediatric medical staff and has demonstrated the requisite skills in outpatient service management to transition us into our new patient tower.

“I am thrilled with the management team that we are assembling to lead Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and grateful that we will have Phyllis as an integral member.”