There’s an old adage that goes, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

That just might help explain the success enjoyed by Ana Mederos, chief executive officer of Hialeah Hospital, whose commitment to excellence has earned her a reputation as one of South Florida’s outstanding healthcare executives.

Hialeah Hospital, part of Tenet South Florida, is a 378-bed general acute care facility at 651 East 25th Street in Hialeah, Florida. The hospital has been serving the health care needs of communities from central to north Miami-Dade since 1951.

The hospital offers a broad range of health care services, including 24-hour emergency care, cardiology, neurosurgery, outpatient services, laboratory and a complement of imaging services including interventional radiology, among others. Specialized programs include the Weight Loss Surgery Program, the Sleep Disorders Program and The Motherhood Center, including obstetrics and a Level II neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

When Mederos took over last October, she brought with her a reputation for sound management and a penchant for improving customer satisfaction. Most recently the chief executive officer of North Shore Medical Center in Miami where she implemented significant renovations, she is the recipient of a handful of awards that acknowledge her success. These include back-to-back Circle of Excellence Awards (2003, 2004) as Tenet’s Top Executive, the 1995 YWCA Women in Business and Industry Award, the 1995 National Hispanic Leadership Award from the National Hispanic Leadership Institute, and the 1993 Chairman’s Award from Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corporation.

When asked how she has achieved her level of success to date, Mederos said, “A little by accident, some luck and a lot of hard work.”

According to Mederos, she always wanted to be a physician, but that was not financially feasible, so she chose nursing, a field she grew to love.

“But I also liked finance,” she said. “And I thought about becoming a CPA.”

Instead, Mederos went on to earn the Associate Science Degree in Nursing form Miami Dade Community College, the Bachelor of Health Services Administration from Florida International University in North Miami and the Master’s of Business Administration (with a minor in finance) from Nova University in Ft. Lauderdale.

“This helped me to get a better understanding of the business of running a hospital,” she said.

Mederos started her career in health care as a nurse – ironically, at Hialeah Hospital – but always maintained her interests in other areas of the hospital.

“I always volunteered to do other things,” Mederos said. “I was always assuming additional responsibilities and I was fortunate to have a number of good mentors along the way. This combination helped me become a manager, especially in the area of employee relations. You know what they do, because you’ve done it. You’ve accumulated enough knowledge at many positions to relate to them and their work.

“Consequently, one of the things I enjoy most about my job is getting the chance to talk to staff, to find out what is on their minds and what the challenges are. It also gives me a chance to explain why we do things the way we do. Sometimes we’ve made changes because of their insights. So I always find the time to take walks around the facility and gain invaluable feedback.”

Another factor contributing to her success, according to Mederos, is her willingness to relocate when beneficial or needed, which has enabled her to develop a different perspective on healthcare management than many of her peers. Born in Cuba, Mederos came to the United States when she was 11. Besides Florida, she has lived and worked in Indiana, California, New Jersey and Panama.

Mederos currently resides in Coconut Grove with her husband, a retired criminal investigator, and their two sons, Phillip and Michael, both of whom are recent graduates of the University of Miami.

“My family is really terrific,” she said. “They know how demanding my work can be, and they help by sharing the responsibilities at home.”

That support has played a large part in enabling Mederos to maintain a balance in her life between work and home and to avoid much of the stress a position such as hers can create.

“When I leave my house, I try not to bring it to work, and when I leave work, I don’t bring it home,” she said. “This doesn’t always work, but I try to concentrate on this.

“As for stress, I have the ability not to take things personally. I also workout regularly and read – anything not work-related. And I live by one rule: Love what you do; if you don’t, move on.”

Fortunately, Mederos seems to love her work at Hialeah Hospital, which means she should be contributing to the betterment of health care in South Florida for many years to come.