Article from Silicon Valley Business Journal by Jody Meacham
As a hospital CEO, Joseph DeSchryver may not literally have people’s lives in his hands, but he is always mindful of his responsibilities to both the patients and hospital personnel in his care. He has a special place in his heart for the children's unit because of the time he spent there when his son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. | Joseph DeSchryver | Title and company: CEO, Good Samaritan Hospital | Age: 47 | Hometown: Valencia | Residence: Los Gatos | Family: Wife Laurie, son Kyle, 14, and daughter Callie, 12 | Career path: Assistant administrator, Hollywood Medical Center, Hollywood, Florida; COO, West Boca Medical Center, Boca Raton, Florida; COO, Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, San Luis Obispo; CEO, Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, San Luis Obispo | Education: Bachelor of science in public administration, University of Southern California; master of business administration and master of health services administration, Arizona State University
Joseph DeSchryver has been CEO at Good Samaritan Hospital since January and considers himself still new to the job.
His first exposure to healthcare was through his father, who investigated frauds and embezzlement at hospitals across the country. From that introduction, he began working internships at Southern California hospitals and discovered he had what he describes as “a passion for being able to help people,” but not in the clinical side of the industry.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
It’s a bit odd to hear someone speak of a passion but whose work involves spreadsheets, reports and the business management side of what we think of as a humanity-focused endeavor. Well, certainly the business side is a big portion of what I do, but as hospital CEO, you're responsible for everything. So you're responsible for the quality of care that's delivered in our hospital, making sure that we have systems in place, we have safeguards in place, that we hire and retain the most appropriate personnel to provide those services. That's the most important part of my job, I think — making sure that we're working collaboratively with our medical staff leaders, our physicians, to make sure that we're doing the best that we can. That's where I get my satisfaction. And frankly, I think we have a sacred obligation running the hospital. We have people come to us when they're in need, when they're having babies, and they put their trust in us. So we have to make sure — I have to make sure — that we're providing the services that are going to result in good outcomes for our patients.
Tell me more about your phrase: “sacred obligation.” What caused you to believe that? It was probably about five or six years ago where I really developed that passion. Not that I didn't have it before, but I think it was really when I got my first CEO job. It's not so much a responsibility of making sure that we have quality care; it's more like an obligation.
What’s the human face on that obligation? My now 14-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 2 years old. It just so happens that was the same day that my daughter was born. That was a life-changing event for us and certainly for my son. Being in the hospital for seven days [not the one where he worked] while we were getting his blood sugars under control was really eye-opening to the care and compassion that those bedside nurses were providing to us. Yes, we had great doctors, endocrinologists that were guiding the care but it was the bedside nurses, the nursing assistants — everyone that we interacted with was just so passionate about what they were doing. I walked away from that experience with a better appreciation of what our nurses do day in and day out, what our employees do day in and day out.
You’ve described yourself as still new in this job at Good Sam, but what is your most memorable experience in the 10 months you’ve been here? I try to spend at least two, two-and-a-half hours a day out on the floor. About two months ago, I was walking, doing my rounds, and I was up on the oncology unit and I asked, “Is there any patient up here I could go say hello to and ask about her experience or his experience?” He took me into this one room with this lady. She was battling breast cancer. And she had the chemo, the IV drips going and everything. And I went in and introduced myself and she just lit up that I walked into the room. Here she was battling this illness, and I introduced myself, and she just lit up. She said, "It's so wonderful that you would take the time to come in. You're the CEO of a big hospital, that you have the time to come in and see how I'm doing." I mean, that made my day. I mean, it made my month. And I ended up sitting in that room with her for 20 or 25 minutes. And I was trying to be sensitive of her time because she was going through this, and she just kept talking and talking, and she was telling me about all the great places to go and to hike, and that she lives up in Santa Cruz Mountains and I live in Los Gatos. So she was really trying to make me feel comfortable as being new to the community and here she was dealing with this life-threatening illness. That happens all the time. Happens all the time.