Thanks to a year-long Senior Executive Leadership program, Lisa Chiles, vice president of operations at Samaritan Albany General Hospital, was opened to the possibilities to "what if?"
What if each floor of a hospital is dedicated to a specific health need?
What if doctors used 3D printers to make models of patient hearts to study and practice surgery and at the same time, provide greater information to the patient?
What if rural residents could use telecommunications tools to interact with the leading medical providers in their area of need from the comfort of their own homes?
“What was amazing about this program is that I got to meet with my peers from around the country,” she said of the program, which was sponsored by the American College of Healthcare Executives. “We spent a week in Chicago in June, a week in San Diego in August and a week in Orlando in October.”
Chiles is a 1995 Corvallis High School graduate who went on to earn a degree in business from Oregon State in 1999 and a degree in engineering from OSU in 2000. She also has an MBA from Northwest Christian University. She used those skills with Hewlett-Packard in Corvallis and San Diego, before spending two years in product development with Nike. She came to Samaritan Health Services seven years ago as director of project management.
“I worked with all new construction, new computer systems or improved processing projects,” she said. “I got to know Samaritan Albany’s CEO David Triebes then.”
Two years ago, Chiles became vice president of operations at the Albany hospital.
“I feel honored that Dave and Samaritan supported me attending this program,” she said. “There were about 20 people at each session. The goal is to help us as individuals evolve as senior health care executives and to take our careers to the next level.”
Chiles said the participants represented a range of health care disciplines, including nurses, physicians in executive roles and military professionals. And, she said, the peer interactions will help the participants implement improvements to their hospitals or health systems.
In Orlando, Chiles and her cohort visited the Lake Nona Medical City, which is built around a medical college, research institutes and a Veterans Affairs medical center. All residents wear bio devices that provide data to researchers.
One of Chiles' favorite experiences was visiting the Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando.
“Each floor of the hospital was dedicated to specific patient type,” she said. “For any given patient type — cancer, cardiac, neurology — all services a patient would need are provided on the same floor. Patients can receive imaging services, physical therapy or lab services without being moved.”
Doctors are also using 3D printers to make models of pediatric patients' hearts.
“They use the models to study and practice surgeries and procedures before they are performed,” Chiles said. “They also use them for patient education when they are explaining the procedure to a patient or family member, doctors can clearly show what is happening in the heart and what is required for a certain procedure.”
While visiting Scripps hospitals, Chiles said rooms are positioned to provide maximum natural light, which aids recovery. In Chicago, she visited a health care system where angel investors are funding innovations in health care technology.
Chiles said her cohort members were impressed with the way Samaritan Albany General Hospital has streamlined its emergency department to process nearly 30,000 cases per year, while keeping staffing in line with national standards.
“We have perfected the flow of patients in our system,” she said. “We are a national leader in terms of metrics in the emergency room. That includes attention to details, such as the location of materials needed by staffers.”
Chiles learned a lot about herself and her management style.
“I like to make decisions,” she said. “I’m a bit direct, so I need work on my humanistic side. I’m honest and I’m always available. I probably need to pull in my directness a bit.”
Chiles said that now the challenge is for her to integrate the ideas and technology she learned about during her year-long learning adventure.
“There are way, I think, we can better utilize technology and develop relationships with partners in our community,” she said.
Chiles said Samaritan already has in place the Telestroke program, which connects local doctors and patients with stroke specialists in Portland via video screens and the internet. In other communities the telecommunications opportunities have been expanded into daily medical needs.
With her engineering background, Chiles said she believes in navigating to solutions to a problem, not just shooting from the hip.
Chiles, 41, and her husband Tim, a helicopter pilot, have a son, Thomas, 12.
Away from the office, Chiles enjoys golfing, cooking and being a “mom."