South Florida Hospital News
Sunday May 26, 2019
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October 2007 - Volume 4 - Issue 4

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North Ridge CEO Looking to ‘Do More’ to Improve Patient Services

Dianne Aleman says she’s the "type of person who always wants to do more."

So when she looks back at her two-year tenure as chief executive officer of North Ridge Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, she ponders what more she could have done.

Under her watch, the facility – already known as a pillar of cardiac excellence in South Florida – completed a new $4 million cardiovascular laboratory and is in the process of upgrading every patient room to provide "aesthetically pleasing, family-oriented units."

The hospital is going floor by floor, upgrading facilities and then opening them to patients. NRMC has opened the "new" third and fourth floors. "We are providing our guests with beautiful accommodations and premiere service."

The goal is to make patients feel they are in a hotel with "concierge service" rather than a hospital. She also envisions an "orthopedic hotel," one that will cater to people "who are not typically ill, but need joint replacement." They will be educated in pre- and post-operative techniques, not to mention rehabilitation procedures.

Over all, Aleman wants to create "a soothing environment that makes patients feel at ease and at home."

All this work hasn’t gone unnoticed, said the proud CEO. North Ridge has just been listed as one of Tenet’s Top Ten by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The ranking was also carried in U.S. News and World Report.

"We’re pretty proud of that," she noted.

Aleman said the ranking is derived by assessing patients’ medical data to determine how well hospitals provide recommended care in 20 different quality areas related to heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia. Scores are then converted into a rate or percentage that is reported publicly.

She’s proud of the recognition, and spreads the accolades among the staff. "The thing about North Ridge is that we have a very experienced, tenured group – and it’s an honor to work with them."

Aleman isn’t a stranger to the medical field. Since she was a child, she wanted to be a registered nurse. She accomplished that task in 1977 when she earned her RN degree -- following in the footsteps of her mother, who she said is "a great role model and a huge influence."

But then, she set her sights on a higher goal – to become chief executive officer at a hospital. She reached that plateau in September 2005 when she became CEO of North Ridge Medical Center.

In the interim, she honed her skills for three years as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Boca Raton Community Hospital, working with CEO Gary Strack.

At BRCH, she said, "I was in charge of all operations." Strack, who recruited her, "offered me a lot of good opportunities. He knew it was my goal to be a CEO."

Once she arrived at North Ridge Medical Center she hit the ground running. "The main issues I wanted to attend to were those expressed by the doctors," she said. "In a short period of time, I met with more than 100 physicians and polled the governing board." She touched base with a number of staff members and was able to determine the hospital’s strengths and weaknesses.

Early on, she looked to the community to see what types of physicians she should bring in. "We needed to recruit primary care physicians," she said. She also buttressed the orthopedics and neurosurgery areas. "We have a very good neurosurgical department and excellent spine surgeons," said the CEO.

Since Aleman took the reins, the hospital has re-engaged the community and is becoming an important resource by offering weekly healthcare seminars and community events.

In the works right now, she said, are two monthly seminars: "Get the Scoop" and a "Dinner with the Doctor," that are open to the community in addition to a weekly "Hip and Knee Pain" seminar, and cholesterol screening, to name a few.

She also said she intends to make the most of October, which is breast cancer awareness month. "North Ridge has developed a novel approach in the fight against the disease. We’re asking women to "Picture Yourself Healthy" and encouraging each one of them to take the one picture that could save her life – a mammogram."

"Information about breast cancer and messages of awareness and support are very important. We are spreading that word throughout our community."

One program that came into being with Aleman at the helm is a "pet therapy" program. It is similar to other efforts with dogs – but this one uses cats. The effort has gained considerable media attention.

North Ridge also added a facility just to deal with the needs of seniors.

Aleman also said she added Dr. Kenneth Homer as chief medical officer at NRMC. He is liaison to the medical staff and is also an administrator. This is part of a trend. Just a few weeks ago, Delray Medical Center – another Tenet facility – brought a chief medical officer on board.

Still an RN – and with the sensitivities of a nurse – Aleman likens operating a hospital to taking care of a patient. In both cases, quality and caring are the keys to success.

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