January 30, 2009

Morath named Chief Quality Officer

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Julie Morath, R.N., M.S.

Morath named Chief Quality Officer

Julie Morath, R.N., M.S., has joined Vanderbilt Medical Center as chief Quality and Safety Officer.

A health care safety and quality expert with broad operational experience, Morath was most recently chief operating officer at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minneapolis. She is a member of the National Quality Forum clinical best practices committee and sits on the board of governors of the National Patient Safety Foundation and the board of directors of Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle.

Morath's books include “The Quality Advantage: A Strategic Guide for Health Care Leaders” and, co-written with Joanne Turnbull, “To Do No Harm: Ensuring Patient Safety in Health Care Organizations,” both from Jossey-Bass.

Morath reports to C. Wright Pinson, M.D., M.B.A., associate vice chancellor for Clinical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer, who led the search committee.

“We were really fortunate to get Julie. Her appointment represents a major addition to the intellectual capital and operational resources that the Medical Center is devoting to patient safety and quality,” Pinson said.

The position has been vacant while the previous holder, Drew Gaffney, M.D., professor of Medicine and of Medical Education and Administration, has been on sabbatical; Pinson has, among his other duties, been serving in the role on an interim basis.

“Vanderbilt has done notably well in quality improvement. Drew Gaffney and his predecessor in this position, Paul Miles, built a solid foundation, and as we've sharpened our focus on externally reported metrics, we've had great success in meeting our targets, to the point where we're considered among the nation's leading institutions for patient safety and quality,” Pinson said.

“Without new innovation and an intense effort, we can't do much better. And there's no lack of opportunity, no question that health care is still behind safer industries' systems, like those of airlines and European passenger rail. If we want to go to a new frontier, and if we want literally to lead the nation on patient safety and quality, we need someone focused full-time on envisioning innovative solutions. Uncommon understanding of the issues and a solid operational record made Julie the person for this important role,” Pinson said.

As she leads VMC's quality and safety efforts, Morath will be directly responsible for the Center for Clinical Improvement, Infection Control, and Accreditation and Standards.

“This position is an extraordinary opportunity to contribute to a prestigious medical center committed to excellence,” Morath said. “The passion in my work is fueled by pursuit of quality and better outcomes for patients, families, students and communities.

“While visiting the campus and meeting people over the past year, it became evident that Vanderbilt has a substantive commitment and impressive aim to set a new standard in quality, safety, service, access and value. We have the talent and intellect to do so. It's an honor to be part of this energy and this community of leaders,” Morath said.