Tuesday, May 10, 2016

7:20 AM

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Cindy Becker ’01S (MBA)
Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Highland Hospital

Cindy Becker has come a long way from her first job at Strong Memorial Hospital, delivering food trays to patients. Now she is chief operating officer at Highland Hospital, where she oversees and operates the 261-bed acute care hospital. All told, she is responsible for 2,400 employees, an operating budget of $323 million, and a capital budget of $35 million.

Becker is involved with virtually every aspect of hospital management. At Highland, she oversees day-to-day operations, prepares and manages the budget, monitors quality and process improvement initiatives, and assures compliance with regulations. She also monitors employee and physician engagement and patient satisfaction outcomes, and supports the Hospital Board committee.

The results have been impressive. “We’ve been able to achieve hospital operating margins of four to six percent compared with state averages of 0.5 to 1 percent,” she says. “Our employee engagement and patient satisfaction scores are in the 75th percentile range over the past several years.”

Becker has been involved in health care for 40 years, starting first as a nurse on a surgical unit at Strong Memorial Hospital, and serving three years as a captain in the US Air Force as a critical care and ED nurse. She returned to Strong to work in the Emergency Department as an assistant nurse manager, at which time she earned her MSN in Nursing Administration. In 1988, she was recruited by Highland Hospital to be the nurse manager of its Emergency Department. She has remained at Highland ever since.

While moving up to positions of increasing responsibility, including AVP for Nursing, chief nursing officer, and chief operating officer, Becker was accepted into the Simon Executive MBA Program, where she earned her degree. Now her work has much more to do with the business of delivering health care than being directly involved with patient care.

“Simon taught me the importance of collaboration and teamwork to accomplish outcomes, and it sharpened my analytical and critical thinking skills to make better decisions,” Becker says. The curriculum provided a structured framework she could apply to business settings. “We became adept at preparing financial analyses and business plans that supported recommendations, all in a supportive and rigorous group setting. Some of my best memories are of the time I spent with my teammates at Simon, working long hours to complete projects and assignments,” she says.

Becker heard about the Simon program from a colleague and knew about its reputation for excellence. While studying there, she valued the way Professor Cliff Smith took time to explain concepts simply and mentor students. “We’ve had several managers attend the Medical Management program at Simon, and we regularly sponsor teams for grad student projects,” she notes.

Becker has three grown children and two grandchildren. To relax, she and her husband, Jim, spend time at their cottage on Conesus Lake.


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