ARCHIVED  January 15, 2010

McKee’s new CEO feeling right at home

LOVELAND – McKee Medical Center’s new CEO is no stranger to what goes on within the community hospital.

Marilyn Schock, 47, assumed McKee’s top position in December after beginning her medical career there in 1986 as a staff occupational therapist. For more than two decades she has served in a variety of roles at the hospital, including director of rehabilitation services and associate administrator.

When CEO Christopher Cornue announced in October that he would be leaving after less than a year to go back to his native Chicago, Schock got the nod from Phoenix-based Banner Health System – which owns McKee – to move into the top slot.

It’s a position she never imagined she’d occupy. “My interest was never to be in administration,” she said. “But when you can carry the voice of the bedside to the Big Table, I think it does make a difference.”

Schock and fellow CEO Rick Sutton, who moved from McKee to Banner-operated North Colorado Medical Center following the departure of Gene O’Hara in 2008, were both promoted from within the local operations.

Schock said Banner is looking more to local administrators to provide local leadership. “We have a lot of qualified folks coming up through the ranks,” she said. “We have what’s called talent management and identifying good leaders within our organization and growing our own.”

And while she’s a little uncomfortable putting too much emphasis on it, Schock just may be the first female CEO of a major hospital in Northern Colorado. “Male or female, Banner as an organization has provided me with a lot of opportunities and I’ve been able to take advantage of that,” she said.

Banner Health Western Region President Jim Ferrando said Schock, who assumed the interim CEO position following Cornue’s departure, was the best candidate for the job.

“In all categories, Marilyn was deemed the top candidate, and this assessment was further validated by the outpouring of feedback that we received from many McKee stakeholders including employees, physicians and board members,” Ferrando said. “We are confident that she is the right choice to lead this organization and reaffirms our commitment to growing our own leaders.”

Bert Honea, M.D., McKee’s chief medical officer, said Schock brings a blend of medical caregiver and administrative know-how to the CEO job.

“I think there’s no question that when you work on the clinical side of the equation you have a much better vision of the care given to the patient and the people rendering that care,” he said. “I think it gives one a sense of empathy in giving care to patients as well as knowing the complexity of the administrative side in keeping the lights on.

“Having the right people in the right place at the right time – I think that describes Marilyn’s opportunity,” Honea said.

Biggest challenges

Schock said the biggest challenge for McKee in 2010 is to attract and retain physicians of all disciplines.

“I think the biggest challenge is to continue to work with our medical staff, that we have adequate capacity and are aligning with them as a place of choice for them to practice,” she said.

Schock said so far McKee is doing well, despite the presence of nearby Medical Center of the Rockies, opened by rival Poudre Valley Health System in 2007 in the Centerra development. “We’re actually doing very well,” she said. “We have the employed (physician) model and the independent physician model. Certainly, there’s shortages in some physician specialties but we think we do well in bringing in the people we need.”

Schock said another challenge looming for McKee is to expand its services and keep growing. McKee recently added several new pieces of medical technology, including the DaVinci robotic operating system and a second state-of-the-art CAT scanner with 40 percent less radiation exposure. And while MCR has so far not cut into McKee’s patient numbers, growth has slowed.

“To be stagnant is not where we want to be,” she said. “To be frank, we need to grow.”

That’s where Banner’s investment in new technology for McKee has come into play. “A big part of it is the physicians see a change in outcomes (with new technology). And just the general community is demanding it. People want to come to McKee and we want to provide as many services as we can.”

Schock said she’s concerned about the effect the ongoing economic downturn is having on people being able to afford to go to the hospital. Already, more and more are not able to pay for the services they receive, she noted.

“I think we will see an increase in our uninsured and underinsured,” she said. “A $5,000 deductible is tough for anybody. We need to really focus on preventative care and help keep people healthy because once they’re sick, it’s not cheap.”

Schock, a Cody, Wyo., native, said she loves McKee and calls it “home.”

“This hospital is a gem. When you walk in the door, there’s a community feel, that somebody cares about you,” she said. “We call it the McKee Magic.”

LOVELAND – McKee Medical Center’s new CEO is no stranger to what goes on within the community hospital.

Marilyn Schock, 47, assumed McKee’s top position in December after beginning her medical career there in 1986 as a staff occupational therapist. For more than two decades she has served in a variety of roles at the hospital, including director of rehabilitation services and associate administrator.

When CEO Christopher Cornue announced in October that he would be leaving after less than a year to go back to his native Chicago, Schock got the nod from Phoenix-based Banner Health System –…

Related Content