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A people-focused approach to care

by John W. Mitchell, Senior Correspondent | October 14, 2022
Kidada Hawkins
From the October 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Back in February, BayCare Health System announced that Kidada Hawkins would be coming on board as the president of Winter Haven Hospital and Winter Haven Women’s Hospital. Now that he’s had some time to get settled in the new role, HealthCare Business News reached out to learn more about him, and the factors that contributed to his decision to lead the facilities.

HCB News: Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in healthcare?
Kidada Hawkins: I initially started out as a medical student. After my second year as a medical student, I learned about hospital administration, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), where I attended college, had a reputable healthcare management program. I started looking at the student debt I would have to take on to be a doctor. I wanted to take care of people, so as an administrator I still get to do that. Even if it’s indirectly. This aspect of healthcare never really occurred to me. But I had a great conversation with my guidance counselor at UAB and that person suggested that I look at the healthcare administration program. So, it worked out.

There was one other medical student in my class who also went that route. Even though that was over 20 years ago, I think being a former medical student has helped me have a clinical perspective to relate to the medical staff better — but that, of course, doesn’t make me a physician. I have always been comfortable around key medical staff members. I have good friends who are physicians. They tell me that being in administration is a good match for my personality.

HCB News: Can you tell us what your career has been like up to this point?
KH: Healthcare is all about pursuing quality, and that takes people. At the end of the day, it’s about good interactions with hospital team members. Successful one-on-one interactions are important because that’s how you get patient loyalty and buy-in from physicians. Team membership (hospital staff) is also key to a quality strategy. Whatever we’re working on only works if our team members have a say and support the project or initiative — an administrator has to get that right.

I’ve had the good fortune to see great results in the six month I’ve been here. I’ve watched patient experience scores more than triple. The ER has successfully been reaching stretch performance and our length of stay is improving (declining). I hear our staff talking about patient experience and think that’s a true test of employee engagement. I believe team members are buying into and support that strategy and I’m very grateful for their support. I understand the hospital will be successful as I allow it to and that takes support from our team members.

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