South Florida Hospital News
Friday September 20, 2019
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May 2019 - Volume 15 - Issue 11

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Leadership Roundtable: Broward Health Executives

In the dynamic healthcare industry, today’s leaders must equip themselves with the ability to guide their organizations through times of change. Nowhere has that been more evident than at Broward Health, which in the past six months appointed through internal promotion a new CEO, CAO and CFO. This dynamic new team’s ability to keep their organization focused and motivated in a quickly evolving industry is the catalyst for long-awaited change.
 
“Organizational culture drives a health system, and that starts with character,” says Gino Santorio, President/CEO, Broward Health. “I’ve been very direct that no matter what, we will do the right thing. Our success is contingent upon character, and I’m proud to be surrounded by 8,000-plus employees who have remained committed to acting in the best interests of our patients and community.”
 
Since Santorio was named the permanent CEO in December 2018 and Alan Goldsmith, former Broward Health CFO, was named Executive Vice President/CAO and Alex Fernandez named the Senior Vice President/CFO in January 2019, this leadership – with the support of the North Broward Hospital District Board of Commissioners – has hired a new Individual Review Organization (IRO), renegotiated numerous contracts for operational efficiency and been proactive in engaging elected state officials for Critical Care Funding.
 
Santorio, Goldsmith and Fernandez consider these types of complexities that are pressuring healthcare to now be the industry norm. Managing these issues demands a broader perspective than what once may have been required of leadership.
 
“The new model of a healthcare CFO is certainly different,” says Fernandez. “No longer does the CFO focus only on finance. Today’s healthcare leader has to be diverse and able to talk on all different levels and across skill sets. We all cross over to each other’s lanes, and it works well.”
 
“I would even go as far as saying that the healthcare system was much different less than five years ago,” says Goldsmith. “The constant change – and change is a guarantee in healthcare – is going to be rapid. Your ability to be nimble and think quickly to get ahead of the curve is essential.”
 
Santorio added that healthcare leaders must also now work with a greater number of players.
 
“A typical day for me can include strategizing our payer model with managed care partners, then educating Tallahassee on funding perspectives, before counseling staff on organizational matters and communicating with patients and physicians to help them select the best value for care,” he says. “It’s complex, but Alan, Alex and I are excited about the challenges.”
 
Santorio, Goldsmith and Fernandez all came to Broward Health knowing there would be unique opportunities to rebuild a health system that was in need of strong management, impeccable ethics and a commitment to ensure high quality care for all those served.
Goldsmith was recruited by a former Broward Health CEO. Having started his career as an assistant in a human resources department, he quickly moved his way up the ranks and across organizations until joining Broward Health as CFO in 2017.
 
“I knew they were in the middle of a turnaround,” he says. “I live in Broward County and wanted to help be part of Broward Health’s change.”
 
Goldsmith quickly recruited Santorio, who says he was familiar with the turnaround environment Broward Health was facing, having just come from a similar environment.
 
“At that point in my career, I decided after speaking to Alan that I could help the organization and it was something I thought I would like to do,” Santorio notes, also joining Broward Health in 2017 as the COO.
 
While Fernandez arrived at Broward Health under different circumstances, he has been no less committed to fortifying the health system. He started as a staff accountant with a hospital in Palm Beach County and ultimately worked his way up to the role of COO, but he missed finance.
 
“There was a CFO position open at Broward Health Medical Center,” he explains. “I researched the hospital and its service lines, as well as the tertiary component of the hospital. I applied for the role and was offered the job. It was the best decision I’ve made in my career thus far.”
 
Santorio and Goldsmith share similar views, noting that while demanding, it’s an exciting time to lead Broward Health for many reasons. Steering a special taxing district, which essentially means the system is owned by the taxpayers of Broward County, presents its own challenges. Broward Health hospitals are treating some of the most critical and complex medical cases.
 
“I could give a hundred reasons why I’m inspired to come to work each day,” says Santorio. “But it ultimately boils down to patient care. For example, if you show up to a Broward Health trauma center with any vitals, there's a 98 percent chance that you're going to survive. Those kind of survival rates are unprecedented, and that’s just one sample of the spectacular care we regularly provide for our patients.”
 
“We are caring for those who can’t care for themselves,” says Fernandez. “From hospitals and clinical care to community outreach, we are filling a void. Without Broward Health, there are a number of residents in Broward County who would not have medical care. As a leader, the significance of that drives you.”
 
The magnitude of this work might intimidate others, but for Goldsmith, there’s a simple reason they are willing to put in the hours they do: Broward Health is this leadership team’s passion.
 
“If you don't love what you're doing,” he says, “then you should reconsider what you're doing.”
 
Santorio and Fernandez also cautioned future healthcare leaders to carefully consider their career development strategies.
 
“Young professionals need to determine what they want long term,” Santorio says. “They need to identify different avenues to achieve their career goals, and finally, and this is the most critical component, they need to be willing to do the work.
 
“I know Alan, Alex and I have put in our time and punched our dance ticket, so to speak. We worked our way up through lower level positions. We put in the hours and were willing to go where other people weren't. We took risks. That is something people need to decide if they’re willing to do.”
 
“You need to be open to accepting additional responsibilities,” adds Fernandez. “It’s not always going to be easy, because you're going to have your current workload, plus additional responsibilities. But reaching your career aspirations will be worth the effort.”
 
Most importantly, Broward Health’s new leadership continued to stress the importance of doing the right thing.
 
“Treat people at all levels fairly,” says Fernandez. “Regardless of your role, that goes a long way. Be accountable and help grow the people around you.”
 
“Listen to people, understand expectations and act with integrity,” says Goldsmith. “When you know in your bones that you and your organization have acted in good faith, you will ultimately succeed.”
 
“I say this all the time,” says Santorio, agreeing with Goldsmith. “Do the right thing. It sounds easy, but it can be challenging. I promise you that if you do the right thing, you’ll never go wrong.”

For more information, visit www.browardhealth.org.

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