September 3, 2018
Shop Talk

Saint Vincent's interim CEO

Photo | Brad Kane
Ava Collins, chief operating officer and interim CEO at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester

Ava Collins, chief operating officer and interim CEO at Saint Vincent Hospital

Founded: 1893

Employees: 2,500

Residence: Worcester

Birthplace: Bruce, Miss.

Education: Bachelor's degree in medical technology, University of Louisiana Monroe; master's degree in healthcare administration from Tulane University in New Orleans

At the end of July, Saint Vincent Hospital CEO Jeffrey Welch resigned his position to run a group of Greater Miami hospitals for Saint Vincent parent company Tenet Healthcare. His chief operating officer, Ava Collins, is serving as interim CEO until a permanent replacement is named and focusing on keeping the healthcare organization running as a well-oiled machine.
When did you join Saint Vincent?

I've been at Saint Vincent Hospital and with Tenet Healthcare for 2.5 years. I came to Saint Vincent from Ochsner Health System in Louisiana, where I worked for more than 20 years in various executive roles.

What was your first job in healthcare?

My first healthcare job was in the laboratory, so I understand the important role all departments play in providing great patient care.

How's it been going?

It has been a great 2.5 years. Working at Saint Vincent was a very attractive opportunity for me. The entire Northeast, and Massachusetts, especially, is known as a healthcare mecca. Tenet is known as a well-run healthcare company. Being COO at Saint Vincent gave me the opportunity to help lead the hospital's on-going commitment to health and the community.

Saint Vincent turns 125 this year.

When you realize how long Saint Vincent has been around, you think about the Sisters of Providence and everything they hoped to accomplish. We want to stay true to their original vision. We believe they would be very proud of the institution we are today. Our purpose is to honor their legacy and remain committed to providing high quality care to our patients. A current example of this is Saint Vincent is the only Worcester hospital to receive an A grade for patient safety from the Leapfrog Group.

How are the healthcare needs of Mass. different from Louisiana?

We look at the prevalence of chronic conditions in the populations we serve to ensure we are meeting the needs of our community. Central Massachusetts and Louisiana have similar trends.

Do you focus on certain areas where maybe other hospitals don't?

We are an acute care community teaching hospital excelling in the areas of cardiology, orthopedics, women's health and oncology.

You've invested more in behavioral health.

We are growing our commitment to the community's behavioral health needs. We have a pod in the emergency department dedicated behavioral health patients. The number of in-patient beds for behavioral health will be expanding from 13 to 20.

How do you keep overall costs down?

There will always be cost pressures. We focus on streamlining our processes and overall efficiency while maintaining high quality care.

How can operations be more efficient?

We want to streamline the throughput of our patients. We are opening a command center and applying engineering and predictive analytics to predict patient flow. By doing this and using new technology, we want to bend the cost curve while staying true to our value statements of providing quality and safe care, exceptional service and affordability.

It all comes down to efficient use of time and resources.

How's the interim CEO position coming along?

It is an honor to be asked to lead this organization. My focus is on supporting our teams and our mission. I want to be supportive and visible to our patients and employees, to both listen and connect with them. I am fortunate to be working with Saint Vincent's dedicated team of leaders, physicians and employees.

Do you want to be the permanent CEO?

I'm keeping my focus on the interim role and ensuring that we continue to execute on our initiatives and commitment to the community. It is a pleasure and an honor to represent Saint Vincent Hospital.

This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by WBJ Editor Brad Kane.


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