By Daniel Casciato

 Managing a hospital is a complex task that requires a great deal of skill and experience. The CEO must manage a large and diverse staff, ensure patients receive quality care, and navigate the complex bureaucracy of the healthcare industry. The job is also challenging financially, as hospitals must constantly contend with shrinking reimbursements and increasing costs.

For Cindy Jackson, Chief Executive Officer at Kindred Hospital South Florida Ft. Lauderdale, one of the many challenges today’s hospital CEOs face is staffing their hospital post-COVID.

Many healthcare workers may be reluctant to return to work in a high-stress environment. Additionally, hospitals may need to hire temporary staff to fill any gaps in coverage, which can be costly. Ensuring your hospital is adequately staffed during this time is critical to providing quality patient care.

“The industry has experienced a mass exodus in many healthcare facilities,” Jackson adds. “Staffing, and developing new staff, is our most challenging aspect. What we are doing here to address that particular challenge is to focus on retention and morale and ensuring that our team has the resources to successfully transition into their roles.”

Prior to being named CEO in February, Jackson was CEO for Kindred Hospital Bay Area Tampa from February 2020 to February 2022. She also served as Kindred’s Director of Sales Marketing for four years before taking over as CEO at the Tampa facility.

Jackson says that some of the critical skill sets a healthcare executive should possess are empathy, emotional intelligence, as well as the ability to connect with people. Empathy allows someone in a leadership role to understand and feel what employees and patients are going through. They must also have the emotional intelligence to manage the emotions of staff, patients, and family members.

Connecting with them enables you to build rapport and help create a positive patient experience. These traits are essential for a CEO because they enable them to create a positive and supportive hospital environment that promotes healing.

“To me, these are the only transferable skill sets that supersede anything else to be successful,” explains Jackson.

To prioritize the needs of the Kindred hospital team and its patients, Jackson says they perform ongoing employee engagement surveys and listening sessions.

“We want to hear from the team things that are going well and areas that are our opportunities to improve,” she says. “We’re also able to drill down on those initiatives because we take the time to get to know our employees. We want them to always be comfortable talking with us. We’re constantly talking to our team to get to know them better. For example, we create opportunities to simply have informal conversations with them about their families and other interests. That builds trust and rapport.”

Striving to inspire and motivate your team by setting an example for them to follow is another important trait for an executive to possess. They should be passionate about their work and be able to communicate that enthusiasm to their team. Listening and communicating are also important, notes Jackson. It creates an environment where team members can collaborate and feel supported.

“I’m a connector,” says Jackson. “I’m big on the fact that we have two ears and one mouth. So, it is important to listen with understanding, and then be able to respond accordingly. I inspire and motivate my team because I understand and know them, meaning that I interact with them. I know about their families. I know a lot about their goals and initiatives, both personal and professional. I know those things because I ask them, and I have a genuine interest in understanding what those needs are. By connecting with them, you’re building trust along the way.”

Late last year, Kindred Healthcare and LifePoint Health joined to form ScionHealth, a new healthcare system focused on high-quality acute and post-acute hospital solutions. LifePoint and ScionHealth will still function independently from each other.

“While Kindred Healthcare has evolved into an organization comprised of two parts, my vision for the future of Kindred South Florida is that we operate in a way that is so community-focused that we’re a strong partner in the healthcare continuum.” says Jackson.

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