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Embarking on a new leadership role during the pandemic

by John W. Mitchell, Senior Correspondent | June 11, 2021
Laureen Driscoll
From the May 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Laureen Driscoll was appointed president of Tacoma General and Allenmore hospitals in May of last year. As she assumed leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, we checked in with her about taking charge and the unique challenges during a once-in-a-generation medical event.

Driscoll joined MultiCare in 2016 as vice president of operations, with the primary role as operational lead for MultiCare's acquisition of Deaconess Hospital, Valley Hospital, and the integration of Rockwood Health System into MultiCare. Before joining MultiCare, Driscoll served as chief operating officer for Swedish Cherry Hill Campus in Seattle and vice president of Swedish Heart and Vascular Institute.

HCB News: Who or what inspired you to follow a career in healthcare from nurse to administrator?

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Laureen Driscoll: Early on in my career as a charge nurse, I would ask why decisions were made because I wanted to advocate for my patients. Eventually, I decided I wanted to lead the decision-making to remove barriers for patient care at the bedside. We have what we call the "Golden Hour," the time of day we set aside to get out in the hospital to make rounds on the staff and patients. I was making rounds one day, and a nurse told me about a concern that he had with the carts we use when a patient codes (heart stops beating or not breathing). He pointed out that the cables to the end tidal CO2 monitor were too short to reach a patient who might be on the floor. This is the kind of problem an administrator doesn't know about unless they talk to staff on the floor. I always keep my eyes open, and it's delightful to be out and around to help solve a problem like that. Of course, now when I go upon the floors, I must wear appropriate PPE like a mask and shield if I am speaking with patients.

An emergency unit in action outside of Tacoma General Hospital.
HCB News: You were appointed president of MultiCare's Tacoma General and Allenmore hospitals last year. Why does it make sense to have one president for both hospitals?
LD: Both hospitals have a lot in common in terms of patient demographics. It gives me a unique perspective and twice the opportunity to learn and grow. Tacoma General is a tertiary care referral center for trauma and higher acuity cases. Allenmore, on the other hand, has been very important in their community in taking care of patients during the peak of COVID 19 for admissions who were of lower acuity, but still met medical criteria for inpatient care. Allenmore also provides a wide range of needed, scheduled community-based services. These include orthopedics, gynecology, urology, general surgery, bariatric surgery. It also offers emergency care, as well as heart and vascular services, for sudden onset medical emergencies

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