South Florida Hospital News
Sunday May 26, 2019
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August 2014 - Volume 11 - Issue 2

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New UMH CEO Says “Be Ready, Willing and Able to Change in Healthcare”

David Zambrana, recently named Chief Executive Officer of the University of Miami Hospital (UMH), the flagship hospital of UHealth, University of Miami Health System, decided as a child to live his life in healthcare. Born to Cuban immigrant parents, Zambrana grew up in Miami. He got a taste of the hospital environment as a young boy while waiting in the lobby of Hialeah Hospital for his mother to finish her shift while working in the dietary department.
 
“I was so inspired when I attended my older sister’s nursing dedication ceremony, that I decided to be a nurse, too,” he said.
 
Fulfilling his dream, Zambrana graduated from Southern University in Chattanooga, TN, with a nursing degree. He returned to Miami, where he worked in cardiac surgery intensive care, trauma and pediatric intensive care at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital. In 1996, a physician colleague was leading the Trauma Program at Delray Medical Center and recruited Zambrana to join him.
 
Clinical and business background
“Along the way, I had mentors who realized there were opportunities for me in healthcare leadership,” Zambrana said. “They advised me to expand my wings and pursue graduate and undergraduate degrees in the business side of healthcare.”         
 
Taking their advice, Zambrana obtained a bachelor’s and master’s of science degree in business administration and health care management. He graduated with honors in the first Doctor of Nursing Practice class at the University of Miami, and is currently a candidate for a doctor of philosophy degree in nursing with a focus in leadership and healthcare systems. He has a research interest in the phenomenon of staff burnout and the role leadership plays in this process.
 
Now a 22-year healthcare veteran, Zambrana was named CEO of UMH in May after serving as interim CEO since January. He first joined UMH in 2008 as chief nursing officer and was later promoted to chief operating officer.
 
With Zambrana at the helm, UMH will continue its assent to the ranks of the nation’s best academic teaching hospitals. He will focus on the four elements of the hospital’s mission – exceptional patient care, ground-breaking research, renowned teaching and meaningful community service.
 
UMH was formed when the University of Miami acquired the 560-bed Cedars of Lebanon Medical Center in 2007. Times were difficult after the acquisition, with the economic downturn, reduction of reimbursements at both the federal and state level, and the challenging transition from a for-profit community hospital to a teaching hospital.
 
Hospital thriving
Zambrana anticipates better times ahead, with the hospital expected to turn a profit this year due to cost reductions and greater efficiencies. Thriving key programs including general and vascular surgery, orthopedics, neurosurgery, sports medicine and robotics have also attracted patients.
 
“We are the only university-owned teaching hospital in the region, which enables us to provide our patients access to the clinical research trials and innovative therapies, he said. “We’ve had key investments in minimally invasive hybrid laboratories, several surgical sub-specialty programs, hospital-based clinics, and renovation of several inpatient units. We are continuing to improve the physical plant in an effort to modernize the facility and grow.”
 
Long and short-term goals
Zambrana is pursuing several key short-term goals as CEO: distinguishing the hospital in the marketplace, creating greater efficiencies while maintaining quality and growing the number of patients and services. He also wants to leverage the benefits of the Miller School of Medicine and the two specialty hospitals in the health system - Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.
 
Long-term goals include continued capitalization, modernization of facilities and the use of technology to bridge the gap between patients and providers. Zambrana also wants to see UMH work closely with the medical school’s physicians to focus more on population-based health and preventive health/wellness.
 
”It’s important that the healthcare industry work toward decreasing hospitalizations for chronic diseases,” he said. “We also want to reduce the percentage of re-admissions within 30 days by educating patients about their condition and effectively communicating with them before discharge.”
 
Engaging staff
Another key long-term goal will be to engage the hospital’s work force to improve the quality of service and promote efficiencies.
 
“Engaging our staff in the mission of caring for patients as if they were family has been tremendously valuable for us,” he said “We approach decision making in a shared, collaborative way as we try to work more efficiently.”
 
The entire senior leadership team is required to make rounds throughout the hospital once a week. “This is one of the most valuable things we do,” Zambrana said. “Our roles separate us from the front line staff, but it’s the relationships with staff and physicians that make us successful. The rounding process connects leadership with staff and lets us know if they have the tools and equipment they need to do their job. I also see it as an opportunity to look at our physical plant. How are we presenting ourselves to the exterior world? There are always opportunities to come back and retool.”
 
Dual experience valuable
Zambrana believes his early roots in nursing, combined with his knowledge of the business side of healthcare, will help him successfully navigate through changing times. “From a clinical perspective, I can understand the implications of physicians not having the supplies or instruments they need in the operating room,” he said. “But I can also understand how not having the equipment in a timely manner affects our overall finances and operations. My ability to cross over from a clinical to an administrative focus is valuable.”
 
Zambrana sees one thing for sure in healthcare today. “You must be ready, willing and able to change,” he said.
 
Despite all the challenges and uncertainty, he says he believes healthcare is still a wonderful career. “At the end of the value chain is the work we do for patients. The University of Miami Health System really provides patients in our community with access to exceptional healthcare. We take that responsibility very seriously and consider it a privilege to care for our patients. Focusing on the lives of others beats any other career.”
For additional information about UMH, visit www.umiamihospital.com or call (305) 689-5511.
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