Page 44 - BusinessWest October 13, 2021
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type of provider, and there is limited access, hav- ing a high level of collaboration, particularly with the medical staff and the provider staff, is very important.
“Overall, that was an incredible learning expe- rience, understanding the intricacies of running
a facility that’s technically complex,” she went
on, adding that, as chief medical officer and chief operating officer, she had oversight over just about everything except nursing, finance, and HR.
Right Place, Right Time
The learning experiences continued at the Bap- tist Health System/Tenet Health Care, where that system confronted not only COVID, but the severe — and highly unusual — weather pattern that vis- ited most of Texas near the end of February.
Some called it ‘Snowvid,’ said Watkins, adding that healthcare systems had to confront not only the pandemic, but extreme cold that knocked out power and water to many communities.
“We had COVID patients, we had no electric- ity, we were on generators, and we did not have water, she recalled. “Managing through all that was a challenge, although what each of these events has shown is that it has not changed why we do what we do, but it does force us to change how we do it.”
Elaborating, she said some recent developments or trends will continue for the foreseeable future, including telehealth, which she described as a game changer for both the inpatient and outpatient sides of the equation. This became evident in Texas, as well as the hospital that would become the next line on her résumé.
Watkins told BusinessWest that the position at
CDH came to her attention through a recruiter, and after more talks with family and friends, she decid- ed that managing a smaller community hospital wouldbeanappropriatenextsteponhercareer journey.
“It’s a wonderful, wonderful fit,” she said of CDH, adding that her views on the delivery of healthcare and areas of focus are in sync with those of the hospital and its staff. “First and foremost,
I’m a physician, and I want to make sure that we’re
“One of the things I work hard to do is listen and gather information before executing.”
delivering safe, high-quality care and that we’re great stewards of resources, whether it’s finance or personnel or capital, and that’s what Cooley Dickin- son does.”
Elaborating, she said the opportunity to lead
a hospital that is an affiliate of the Mass General Brigham system, formerly Partners Healthcare, was also appealing.
When she talked with BusinessWest before her arrival, Watkins said one of her first priorities is to familiarize herself with the community and meet with many different leaders and constituencies — in whatever ways COVID will allow. Which means a lot of Zoom meetings, some phone calls, and, when possible and appropriate, in-person gatherings.
“My goal is to get out there and meet the com- munity where they are at as quickly as possible,” she said. “I think it’s also important that I meet the team; meet our front-line caregivers, staff, and pro-
viders; and understand what’s working well and where we have opportunities.”
Returning to her thoughts on the lessons learned fromthepandemic,Watkinssaidthat managing through this crisis has enabled her to grow and mature as a leader — out of necessity.
“Physicians inherently have trouble delegating,” she told BusinessWest. “And I fully disclose that I am one of those physicians. It’s been a journey, but the pandemic has really helped me to leverage and trust the team and be a better partner, a better col- laborator, and a better support.
“One of the things I work hard to do is listen and gather information before executing,” she went on. “And that’s been incredibly important during this time.”
When asked about the management style she brings to CDH, Watkins started by saying she is an optimist by nature, and she believes this is an important trait in this business.
“We have the singular privilege of being able to take care of patients and the community, whether it’s one-on-one or on a larger scale,” she explained. “And from that optimism, I assume good intentions and assume that those who chose this profession want to take care of people as well. We will have challenging conversations, and it will be important to challenge and push each other to do better and innovate, but I would like to consider myself to be collaborative, open, very much driven, direct, and someone who feels it’s important to have fun at work. That’s because this work makes for long days, and there needs to be some form of celebration, some sort of fun.” u
George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]
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