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Meet your GBMC HealthCare Board Chair: PJ Mitchell

September 4, 2017
PJ Mitchell - HealthCare Board Chair
GBMC HealthCare Board of Directors Chair, PJ Mitchell
How did you first become involved at GBMC?
I was familiar with GBMC as a patient and neighbor, I was really introduced from a board standpoint by a board member at that time, my friend, Margaret Preston. She introduced me to the former board chair, Barbara Lucas. I know both of these women through the then-Women's Leadership Council, now called Women United, at United Way. We were all involved in the community in various aspects and they invited me to get to know GBMC a bit better.

In general, giving back and service are part of my DNA. My parents were very involved in the community so when I was asked to go on the board, I heard them talking in my ear – although they were already gone – 'If not you, then who?'

Looking back on your 16 years of board service already, is there a particular project or initiative that sticks out in your mind?
I became involved with the Quality Committee early on, and that was absolutely fascinating. It's a good way for new board members and others to really understand many aspects of the healthcare system and the hospital. It was a very quick learning curve being on that committee, and I have a background in quality.

I was the Vice President for Global Sales Operations at IBM before I retired and participated in quite a bit of quality work: Baldridge, Six Sigma, etc. And I can see that John Chessare has really led us to a premier spot in terms of quality in healthcare; it's been fascinating to watch the journey.

What does it mean to hold the chair role?
GBMC is such an extraordinary and visionary organization under John Chessare's leadership. The board is so strong and has many distinguished members. I am honored the board selected me to have this leadership position.

What do you hope to accomplish during your tenure?
My role is to support and enable the healthcare providers and the management to do what they already do very well. GBMC is a trailblazer, a leader and sets the benchmark on quality and compassionate healthcare. We are there now and I expect we will continue to raise the bar under John's leadership. He has such a wonderful, strong management team. It's a pleasure to work with and support them.

Anything in particular you see as a focus area for GBMC coming down the pike?
Continuing to focus on quality, continuing to stay abreast and be prepared to be flexible relative to the accountable healthcare environment. There are so many things in flux and in question now, GBMC needs to be nimble and ready to react and respond and I think we are.

John has set up the organization such that it is ready to react and adapt and move forward no matter what occurs. Not that it will be easy, but I've worked with many CEOs across a broad spectrum – whether it was customers or colleagues in my professional life or elsewhere – and he is really outstanding. He's very unique in his vision and his ability to implement that vision. Lots of people are great at vision, but they can't quite move the needle operationally; other people are great operationally, but they don’t have the vision. John has the vision and the ability to make it a reality. That's a winning combination and unusual. I'm thrilled to work with John and the management team.

What do you feel you personally bring to the role as chair?
Having been on the board for 16 years, I believe I have a good understanding of the various issues and challenges in healthcare today and a good understanding of GBMC certainly. I also think my experience as a global IBM executive gave me great experience managing complex organizations, strategic planning as well as all aspects of customer or patient/client engagement and satisfaction, operational excellence and quality.

Every industry has their unique characteristics, but there are some basics that span any organization if you want to succeed and be world-class. I think there's a lot of synergy there. GBMC is complex, we have a great strategic plan, we're focused on operational excellence and quality. We are totally focused on patient experiences and outcomes. It's very well-aligned with my experience at IBM, which I hope will be helpful.

What makes GBMC different from other healthcare institutions?
GBMC is a gem. We are so advanced in our thinking relative to the patient-centered approach to healthcare and our relentless pursuit in all aspects of quality. We've been recognized nationally as the leader in patient safety and innovation by the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management. We have such a stellar leadership team across the board and we're just unparalleled as a healthcare provider. The tagline that we will deliver "to every patient, every time the care we would want for our own loved ones," is not lip service, it's what GBMC actually does every day. We walk the talk. That's really what sets GBMC apart. It's not just marketing and wishful thinking; we do it.

Any other thoughts you want to leave with the community?
From a philanthropic perspective, I just want to say, I view my own personal philanthropy like I view my investments. Where will my philanthropic dollars reap the most returns for the community and make the community better? I view GBMC as a great investment of my philanthropic dollars.
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