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Q&A with Adventist Health White Memorial CEO John Raffoul

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | March 12, 2019
John Raffoul
From the March 2019 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HealthCare Business News spoke with John Raffoul, CEO of Adventist Health White Memorial in Los Angeles, about his long history with the hospital, including its particular challenges and the programs and technologies the hospital’s leaders have developed to meet those challenges.

HCB News: What inspired you to pursue a career in healthcare?
John Raffoul: I went to school in Michigan and wanted to pursue a degree in chemistry and biology. My first passion was research. But I was also interested in how to effectively communicate that research. Over the years, I migrated from science into business, but I never lost that desire to apply research and education in the service of health. Healthcare was really a natural fit for me: when I finished college in 1984, the first job I had was in a hospital setting.

HCB News: Tell me a bit more about Adventist Health White Memorial itself – what are the communities and populations it serves? What are its patients’ main social and health challenges?
JR: Our primary service area has over 1 million people – and they live within a five-mile radius of the hospital. Of that population, 50 percent of adults did not receive a high school diploma, 27 percent are unemployed, and nearly 40 percent of households earn less than $25,000 annually. It’s definitely an economically challenged area, and so we’re happy to do our part to help.

In some ways, our culture is a response to the population we serve: we know we’re needed, and we know we owe them our best. That awareness is something that connects and motivates all of us.

HCB News: What attracts staff to White Memorial?
JR: Honestly, it’s one thing above all – our culture. While some staff leave because they think the grass is greener somewhere else, many of them come back to Adventist Health White Memorial because they miss that culture.

The word “family” is sometimes overused, but I can tell you that it truly applies at White Memorial. My career is a kind of “Exhibit A” in this regard, but my longevity here isn’t all that unique: our current COO has been with the organization for 35 years and our charitable foundation president has been here over 25 years. In fact, we have associates that have celebrated 50 years plus of services with us!

HCB News: What is Adventist Health White Memorial best known for?
JR: We were recognized with the California Awards for Performance Excellence, Eureka Gold Award; the only organization in the state to receive this distinction. In 2016 and 2017, we were recognized by Healthgrades for being one of the top 100 hospitals in the nation. And for 10 of our patient safety metrics, we’re at the 10th decile, putting us in stellar company.

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