Hospital Leaders in Flint and Ludington Honored for Dedication to Communities

Posted on June 27, 2018

Hospital association recognizes healthcare executives

Helen Johnson, chief nursing officer, Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital, was honored with the 2018 Healthcare Leadership Award.Two Michigan healthcare leaders were honored with the 2018 MHA Healthcare Leadership Award, presented by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) during the MHA Annual Membership Meeting on Mackinac Island. Each year, the MHA recognizes outstanding individuals who have provided exceptional leadership to healthcare organizations and to the health and well-being of the community. The 2018 recipients include Melany Gavulic, president and CEO, Hurley Medical Center, Flint; and Helen Johnson, chief nursing officer, Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital. Gavulic will be unable to attend the membership meeting and will receive the award at another time.

Melany Gavulic became president and CEO of Hurley Medical Center in April 2012, just over two months after being chosen as the interim CEO. In that role, she and her team have worked to strengthen the financial health of Hurley, keeping a keen focus on its safety net mission of access to care.

Gavulic advocates putting physicians into leadership roles, both formally and informally. Physicians are key to building patient relationships, and staying in touch with their needs is essential in determining the direction of hospital services and care delivery.

Leading a level I trauma center and burn unit, a level III neonatal intensive care unit, a children’s hospital-within-a-hospital and a high-risk obstetrics service, Gavulic easily could have kept Hurley’s expertise within hospital walls. However, she realized that this established credibility could benefit the public more broadly. Embracing physician input, she and her team initiated a solid ambulatory strategy to expand urgent cares, occupational health offices and specialty practices throughout the region.

Low health rankings in Genesee County makes community outreach a vital portion of the hospital’s strategic plan. It necessitates the delivery of health information within nontraditional parameters. For example, a wellness kiosk at the Flint Farmers’ Market provides everything from blood pressure screenings to diabetes awareness. The Hurley Healthy Living Series brings diagnosis-specific information straight to the community, typically at a nonhealthcare location. These health workshops not only provide opportunities to ask physicians questions, but also allow community members to learn from each other when facing common health problems.

Through the continued prioritization of quality and safety, Gavulic and her team look to a future where Hurley Medical Center remains a game changer in healthcare.

Helen Johnson became chief nursing officer at Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital (SHLH) in 2008 and immediately impacted the hospital’s delivery of safe, high-quality care that focuses on the patient experience.

Through Johnson’s work with the SHLH Board Quality Committee, the committee has a new focus on key quality metrics. Johnson established the clinical quality department, which concentrates on improving patient outcomes. She initiated safety rounding and daily huddles to communicate safety concerns and solutions throughout the organization. Her contributions have been recognized in organizational quality awards from Healthgrades, the Economic Alliance of Michigan and The Leapfrog Group.

For many years, community input had indicated the physical design of the hospital was inconvenient, especially for outpatients. Johnson was instrumental in creating a more accessible facility layout that includes a new main entrance, lobby, patient registration and emergency department (ED), which opened in 2013. Her thoughtfulness regarding the ED design resulted in a family bereavement room and improved care for behavioral health patients.

When the position of hospital president opened in 2016, Johnson was named site lead and worked with an interim president from Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial, who was on-site part-time. Selected for her strong relationships with the board of directors and medical staff, Johnson served in this capacity until the new president was named six months later.

Recently, Johnson established practice councils to allow for nursing self-governance, while also serving as a role model for staff rounding. Among her many contributions, she initiated a hospitalist service to improve care for newly admitted patients and developed a telemedicine service.

The MHA congratulates the winners of the 2018 MHA Healthcare Leadership Award and will donate $1,000 on behalf of each of them to the charity of their choice. These funds were provided to the MHA by the family of former MHA President H. Allen Barth.


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  • Hospital Leaders in Flint and Ludington Honored for Dedication to Communities

Tags: Healthcare Leadership Award, annual meeting

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