Sally Jeffcoat grew up and spent much of her professional life in Texas. The daughter of an Army surgeon, she worked as a nurse in critical care and emergency medicine for about four years before deciding she wanted to attend graduate school and go into hospital leadership.
Years later, Jeffcoat arrived in Boise during a time of change for Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center a time when it was being turned into a multi-hospital system with the acquisitions of hospitals in Ontario, Baker City and Nampa. Saint Alphonsus Health System, where Jeffcoat was CEO, now includes four hospitals and 126 clinics in 61 locations.
Jeffcoat's husband Alan, a retired real-estate appraiser, moved here with her. They were joined by their son and daughter-in-law, bilingual-education teachers who recently moved to Ohio with their 3-year-old for new jobs.
Jeffcoat recently was promoted to a job with CHE Trinity Health, the parent organization of Saint Alphonsus. When that promotion was announced, Jeffcoat said she would continue to live in Boise which she calls "the most beautiful place on Earth" and remain involved in the community here.
Q: Did your career as a nurse affect your decisions as a hospital executive?
Being a nurse, I always felt comfortable in leading a hospital because of that grounding, because I had experience in delivering patient care and identified with being in the shoes of those people we depend on to deliver that care. And confidence in working with physicians; sometimes staff can be somewhat intimidated by physicians.
Q: You worked for a while as a private for-profit hospital executive. What was that like?
The investor owned for-profits, they're very good at identifying what is scaleable, what can be done nationally how they bill, how they collect, how they build buildings. Something that is repeatable and scaleable, they do that extremely well, whereas I would say nonprofit systems are typically more regionally based, they depend on I think getting that intellectual capital or that knowledge of what should you be doing locally. In the investor-owned world, I learned so much about the business side of the equation being very focused on priorities, core operations.
Q: What's the difference here, at a Catholic not-for-profit hospital?
There is a much more long-term focus, a keen focus on what the mission is and what the values of the organization are, and the how to accomplish what the mission is. It can be a calling for many people. And many people in faith-based organizations see their work as their ministry, as I do, so you dont necessarily think of yourself as having a work life, a home life, a church life. You see it as much more integrated in the work you do.
Q: What's an example?
We want to ensure that all patients have access. When somebody is seeking our care, we have an obligation because that's who we are. People can become more inspired and purposeful around what they do every day. If you walk around the organization, we have many many different associates or colleagues of many different faiths, but the thing that binds us is that concept. When we dont make those connections, it can become more of a job.
Q: Did anything surprise you about Boise when you moved here?
It's smaller than what I expected. Everybody knows everybody. So, I hadnt experienced that in my career [working in] metropolitan Austin, Houston, St. Louis and that was an adjustment. A pleasant surprise [was] the high caliber of physicians and medical providers in the Valley, what Idaho has been able to attract. We are very blessed to have some very good medical providers in the state, and particularly in the Treasure Valley.
Q: Was the work different from what you expected?
[One] thing I found when I got here was despite the fact that we were a faith-based organization and here for such a long time, I really found that we had to build relationships in the community. The first two weeks I spent just visiting with other [health-care providers] in the community. What came out of that was we really needed to strengthen our relationship with physicians and create our own direction, and not be responsive or reactive to competition.
Q: How would you describe your leadership style?
I would call myself collaborative, direct, always curious, very intentional, planful if there's such a word pretty rigorous in being clear about expectations, making sure we have clarity about what we're going to do. With this transformational work we are doing in health care, there is so much to do. We're asking people to do things differently from how theyve ever done them before. I wake up thinking about people; some leaders think about the "what," I think about the "who." Who we are serving. Who we need in our organization, and why we are doing it.
Q: What are some things you do when you're not working?
I'm very competitive. Absolutely. I'm a tennis player, and I played competitive tennis for quite a long time not in college or anything like that, but I've always been involved in tennis. I have always loved sports, and I'm very committed to health.
Archive by category ''Business Insider
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