CEO adds third Banner Health hospital to role SanTan Sun News

CEO adds third Banner Health hospital to role

CEO adds third Banner Health hospital to role
Business
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By COLLEEN SPARKS
Managing Editor

A longtime nurse and healthcare administrator with deep roots in the medical industry is taking the reins of Banner Ocotillo Medical Center, a hospital expected to open next year in Chandler.

Laura Robertson will remain CEO of Banner Desert Medical Center and Banner Children’s at Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa while leading the new Chandler hospital.

The hospital will be located at the southeast corner of Alma School Road and Loop 202 Santan Freeway adjacent to an existing Banner Health Center.

The married mother of three adult children is comfortable multi-tasking.

Robertson, 53, has moved up through the ranks in the Banner Health system.

While she began her career as a cardiac critical care nurse at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center (which is now Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix), she later worked in many leadership roles including as an associate administrator, chief nursing officer and CEO.

She had served as CEO of Banner Baywood Medical Center and then became CEO of both Banner Heart Hospital and Banner Baywood.

Todd Werner, president of the  Banner Health Arizona Region, praised Robertson.

“At Banner, we take pride in developing and identifying top talent to fill positions from within the organization,” Werner said. “Laura is a great example of our ability to do just that.”

He said Robertson has shown ability to lead large complex organizations and inspire those around her.

“She leads with passion, commitment, integrity and with patients and customers at the center of all decisions,” Werner said.

“The addition of Banner Ocotillo under her scope of responsibilities fits nicely with the services provided by Banner Desert and Cardon Children’s, and further builds upon the already established relationships we have with our employed and community physicians and advanced practice providers in this area,” he added.

Though she has advanced to CEO positions, Robertson believes in being hands-on, including talking to patients directly to try to help alleviate their fears about medical treatment.

We asked Robertson about her career.

How did you get into the medical field?

“My dad was a doctor and my mom was a nurse. I spent a lot of time going on rounds with him. They would bring me along to help. Just the exposure and being connected to a field, where you make a difference. I’m the only one (of siblings) who became a nurse or did anything in the medical field.”

How many siblings do you have?

“I have two sisters and one brother. I’m the third girl. I kind of was like the baby.”

Why did nursing attract you specifically?

“The ability to spend a tremendous amount of time with a patient. Also the opportunity to educate and teach. Nursing is thinking holistically about a patient. They’re thinking about wellness and healing and recovery. The flexibility, the opportunity to be a nurse in so many different ways. I loved that. You could do school nursing, you could work in a hospital. You can really build whatever career you wanted as a nurse.”

Where did you go to college and what are you degrees in?

“A bachelor’s of science degree in nursing from (The) University of Arizona and an MBA in healthcare management from the University of Phoenix. I’m board certified with the FACHE. I’m a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.”

Where was your first job in the medical field?

“Good Samaritan Medical Center. I was a nurse extern; I started when I was in college. Then I became a nurse when I graduated. I took a position in the cardiac unit in Phoenix. I always liked cardiac. The patients are really sick and then they have a great chance for recovery. You care for the sickest. It’s a stressful area. It’s very team-oriented. You’ve gotta depend on each other. I’ve worked for Banner for 30 years.”

What are you looking forward to when Banner Ocotillo Medical Center opens?

It’s a new facility. It will be a community hospital. The ability to bring up a hospital, that’s exciting. The ability to start a culture – that’s exciting. The ability to deliver care in that community is exciting.

“I love the City of Chandler. Our mission’s about making healthcare easier so life can be better. The part about that is about being able to deliver care in the community.”

What will Banner Ocotillo Medical Center in Chandler be like?

“It will have 96 beds. It can expand up to 150 (beds). It will be a community hospital. It will have an emergency department, maternity, surgery. It’s gonna have some pretty exciting technology. With every build we learn more things.

“There’s a larger health center next to the hospital. We’re expecting about 500 physicians, 500 employees, about 250 nurses. We’ll have physical therapy…medical imaging. It’s a big family community.”

What do you like about Chandler?

I’m on the Chandler Chamber of Commerce board. I love all the rebuilding.”

Besides the Chandler Chamber of Commerce board of directors, what other types of volunteer work do you do?

“I’ve been a regular volunteer in the community and took my kids (to volunteer projects). I volunteer on the Board of Governors of the American College of Healthcare Executives, the board of directors for Mesa United Way, a Tempe Sister Cities member, I was president of the National Charity League.

“I volunteered at every school (where her children attended). I’m involved in universities and colleges. I feel grateful I have fallen into a profession I absolutely love.”

How do you juggle so many responsibilities at once?

“It’s all about the team. Have a great team. Work together. I’m up at 4 a.m. I work out. I’m pretty organized. You’ve gotta plan what you’re gonna do and operationalize it. You have to be visible, connecting with your team, also connecting with your patients. You can’t always plan your day. You have to deal with the unexpected all the time. I do like to make lists. I think when you’re a mom you’re leading. Every kid is different. You’ve gotta be good at time management. I’m just proud of my family and my kids.”

Do you have a most proud moment as a nurse?

“I consider it a privilege to work in healthcare. The pride I have is the ability to influence and help people get the best care. Nothing’s more precious than your health. Certainly I have patients through the years visibly I remember, patients in ICU walking in six months later. I had so many proud moments of how we change and impact lives.”

How has healthcare changed in the last 10 years?

“It’s transformative times. There’s…huge advantages from all of technology. The complexity of the health system has gotten greater. Half of the healing happens at home. There’s such a shorter time we as clinicians (spend) with them (in the hospital).

“It’s better to get people out of the hospital sooner. When you look at robotic surgery, it’s much less invasive, there’s less pain, less blood loss. Medical technology across the board is amazing. The advancement in technology in the delivery of healthcare is profound.”

Are there issues related to changes with health insurance in recent years?

“(Health insurance companies are) challenging us to deliver the best care in the most efficient way. Fifty-percent of people we’re treating have high deductibles. We’re responsible for a lot of our healthcare costs.

“We need to be better stewards of the healthcare dollar. It’s easy to get frustrated. You have to be change-hearty. You have to be comfortable with change, embrace it. Who better to lead it than us?”

What advice do you have for patients in the hospital?

“Ask questions. Be informed. Be an informed patient. Be your own advocate. We need to focus on prevention.”

What is your favorite type of exercise?

“I’m a runner (but) I have never run a marathon.”

What are your children’s names and ages? Are any of your children in healthcare?

“Carly Seeger, 25, of Scottsdale, Jack Robertson, 23, of Scottsdale and Abigail Robertson, 19, of Tempe, who goes to Arizona State University. Carly is a nurse. Jack is a finance major working in healthcare. Abigal is studying nursing.”

Who is your husband?

“David Robertson. He’s a managing partner for a business, Ari-Med (Pharmaceuticals Inc.) We grew up together (in Phoenix). We started dating in college.”

What do you do for fun?

“I like to golf, spend time with my kids and husband. I love to travel. I have always cooked dinner. We’ve always traveled. You’ve gotta take time for yourself. I just went to New Zealand and that was amazing. I think we’re actually talking about Hong Kong and Singapore.”

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