Sharp Coronado Hospital CEO, Susan Stone, has been named the Senior Vice President of Health System Operations and Chief Nursing Executive in a new regional organization plan for Sharp HealthCare. Stone, a resident of Coronado, has dedicated over 15 years to Sharp Coronado Hospital, first as Chief Nurse and Operating Officer, and most recently as CEO.
I had the opportunity to speak with Stone recently about these changes as well as her time with Sharp Coronado. “Overall Sharp HealthCare, similar to many healthcare organizations across the country, is going through a lot of pressures to make sure that we’re balancing out and performing optimally,” Stone began. “With the revenue declining, the ever increasing labor costs the organization went through, we reimagined what leadership could look like with a focus on growth and optimizing efficiencies.”
Stone went on to explain that the new model places the Grossmont, Chula Vista, and Coronado hospitals under a single CEO, Scott Evans. “He has historically and most recently been at Grossmont where he did a great job with growth and development and the program,” Stone commented. “The goal is for him to do something similar at the Metro region, so that was put in place.”
According to Stone, the Metro Campus has a focus on growth and opportunities for efficiencies and contracting in physician support. “At the system level then, they were working on two positions; one is focused not only on the nursing professional practice but on the nursing continuum, and really optimizing [the experience] from the front door to getting someone back home,” Stone continued, who has been tapped to step into this new regional role. “That’s my role, and I’ll be really looking at optimizing how we can turn things around to the betterment of the clinical practice.”
In her new role, Stone will be working closely with Sharp HealthCare Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical and Transformation Officer, Amy Adome. “[Adome] has been historically on quality improvement and clinical effectiveness, but she’s also now going to be in charge of the Transformation Office… looking at how we can do things differently and be more innovative in our overall organizational clinic.”
Stone herself will be heading the Nursing Professional Practice through the Chief Nursing Executive system, as well as System Health Operations. “At this point I’m going to be working in partnership with the chief nursing officers across the system to look at pathways for career development,” she explained.
One of her first priorities will be to address the burnout healthcare workers have been experiencing in the industry. “One of my key priorities is to develop a career pathway for our frontline team members to see how they’d like to pursue their career at Sharp, and then develop specific career pathways where they would be guided through that and we would have ways to help them ascend through the clinical programs.”
This is one area that Stone is particularly excited for with her new role. “I have always had a dedication to partnering with our frontline team members and understanding them personally and finding out, what are their dreams,” she said. “I started out as a nursing assistant when I was in nursing school, and I really wanted to be a part of the Sharp system because I saw the level of professional practice in the voice that nurses had in decision making. Having gone through that, nursing assistant to a clinic nurse, a managing director, Chief Nursing Executive, CEO … I feel very passionate about making sure that our people have optimal opportunities and that we get to know our people because our industry is really based on people, and for me that’s what is most exciting.
“I also have historically overseen the Caster Institute of Nursing Excellence and that is a program which has many arms,” Stone also mentioned, adding that a lot of her work as the new Chief Nursing Executive for the region will be done in partnership with the Institute. “The nursing residency program is associated with them and we also have grants, research, and opportunities to partner there for the clinical pathways to really create this exceptional work environment for all of our team members so that we can retain the best and the brightest healthcare workers for Sharp HealthCare. We will focus on how we really perform in that employment arena to really be the destination of choice.”
Additionally, Stone will be working with Sharp HealthCare’s patient care continuum at the integrated care team to ensure a smooth pathway for patient care. “[We’re looking at] how can we work with our team members and all of our insurance plans to optimize the care, and have people flow through the system as efficiently as possible, so that the out of network team, the patient placement team, and the case management utilization review team are all working hand in hand together,” she noted. “Right now they report to different people, so we’re reimagining that whole healthcare continuum to have a senior leader who’s really looking at that whole space.”
Finally, Stone will continue to be a lead for Sharp’s laboratory team. “[We’re] working on growing the laboratory service line in a couple of ways; one is to enhance and improve the growth of the service line,” Stone told me. “We have the cardiac service line, oncology, neuro sciences, and orthopedics that are all slated for growth.” Her team will be working to optimize the laboratory patient experience by working hand in hand with the laboratory service line leaders.
At the same time, the laboratory team will continue pursuing the latest advances and develops of medical technology. “Molecular, of course, is on the cutting edge and we’re developing our molecular program for our physicians and clinicians,” Stone explained. “That’s an exciting project that the laboratory is continuing to pursue and there’s lots on the horizon.”
For Stone it’s all about making a positive difference, which she feels these changes and her new role will allow her to continue to do on a new level. “When I look at the difference this role will make across the care continuum, and how that will help the organization be strong in the future, I get excited about that,” she stated. “I’m doing purposeful work that’s making a difference and giving back in a way that is meaningful to Sharp, meaningful to the community, and meaningful to our patients and family.”
Though Stone will be stepping away as the CEO for Sharp Coronado Hospital to lead nursing at a regional level, she will still be a part of the Coronado community as a resident here. “I have to say, 16 out of the last 20 years I’ve been at Coronado and we started our path to create the best hospital in the universe and I’m so proud of everything that we’ve done,” she mentioned when asked about her time at the Coronado hospital. “Our national awards are just continuing to come in, acknowledging that we are providing the best care in Coronado. We are strong financially, our team members are strong and engaged and excited about their work – I’m going to miss all of that.”
Stone is hoping to take that same momentum with her when she steps into her new role. “I’m looking forward to reengaging at a larger level, and taking some of the lessons learned that I’ve had along the way in this amazing career that Sharp has provided me and making use of that,” she said. “But I will miss the people. That’s always the hardest part when you move to a new location; your heart is always with the people you’ve grown to know and love, and I do love everybody here in Coronado.”
As for what the community can expect with these structural changes, Stone added, “Scott Evans comes with a great reputation and experience with program growth, and he’s familiar with a hospital such as Coronado. The similarity with Grossmont and them being an affiliated facility with Sharp is similar in how we work with our community and the dedication to our community.
“I think that [the community] will feel that, they will see that, and our team members are very, very motivated to continue all of the amazing work they’ve been doing,” she continued. “Our executive leadership team are here and carrying that vision forward, and I know that I am looking forward to all of the amazing things that [Evans] will do to take Coronado to the next level.”
VOL. 112, NO. 48 - Nov. 30, 2022