Incoming CEO David W. Strong shares priorities, challenges
After a 17-month absence of a permanent CEO, Orlando Health has a new leader, named Jan. 6 and starting April 1.
David W. Strong, a transplant from the expansive University of North Carolina (UNC) Health Care system, will be responsible for providing leadership and strategic direction of Orlando Health and its eight wholly owned or partnership hospitals, Orlando Health Physician Group, Physician Associates, outpatient surgery center and a subsidiary interest in five recently acquired outpatient imaging centers.
Strong enthusiastically spoke about the new role in an exclusive interview with Orlando Medical News.
Why have you decided to join Orlando Health?
It’s my belief the health system has all the right ingredients. When I was deciding about the job, three aspects stood out. One, the board really desires excellence. That’s encouraging because when you have a group of community members who want you to be successful and also an organization they can be proud of, it drives you forward. Two, I had the opportunity to meet with 40 or so doctors and sensed they wanted the healthcare system to be very successful and also a great place to practice. Physician support and the relationship between the healthcare system and its doctors is a key success factor. Three, from the staff, I sensed a culture of caring and an expectation of high quality. When I talk about ingredients that fit, that’s what drew me to it.
Do you foresee challenges with entering a healthcare system that has gone since September 2013 without a named CEO?
Absolutely not. The board went through a very thoughtful process to decide a clear direction for the future of the healthcare system. (Interim CEO) Dr. Jamal Hakim has done an amazing job. He stepped into the role at a difficult time and allowed the organization to take a deep breath. He already had deep connections and I look forward to working with him.
Between the two healthcare systems – UNC Health Care and Orlando Health – what challenges, similarities or differences are notable?
All healthcare systems face the same global challenges, whether reimbursement, balancing the idea of quality care with an appropriate cost structure, and so on. Specifically from a market perspective, my role as COO with UNC Health Care took me across the entire state. I’m excited and looking very forward to working in a more focused market in Central Florida. That’ll be a little different. Overall, there are more similarities than differences.
What are your top priorities coming on board?
To listen to co-workers, doctors and others who comprise the network of healthcare in Orlando Health. And then to listen some more. I have a great desire to develop meaningful relationships with physicians, who are the economic engine of any healthcare system. I’m interested in creating an environment in which they feel comfortable and know their patients will be well taken care of. I’m looking forward to working with leaders to achieve great outcomes, whether clinical or patient satisfaction or otherwise. Co-workers and physicians need to believe strongly in the organization.
Globally, I’m looking forward to engaging in the Central Florida community.
After I listen, I may have more priorities to add, but attention to physicians and co-workers will always top the list.
Could you share some background on your family life and experiences in Central Florida?
Certainly! I love talking about my family. My wife of 26 years, Grace, epitomizes her name. We have four children – the older three are boys; the youngest is a girl. Between them, we have one child each in college, high school, middle school and elementary school.
What we liked best about our visit was the people, not only those we officially met with, but also those in the community, who were very warm and welcoming. It was a great visit, and Grace spent time getting to know people within the community, especially people along the way who congratulated us on the role. It’s been a very nice experience.
4-1-1 on new Orlando Health CEO David W. Strong
In David W. Strong’s role as COO of University of North Carolina (UNC) Health Care for system affiliations, Strong logged hundreds of miles across North Carolina, helping to grow the health system and provide strategic leadership to the affiliate hospitals.
In a decade at the helm of Rex Healthcare, Strong’s hands-on leadership style provided the private, not-for-profit healthcare system with a significant national presence. With 660 beds and a medical staff of more than 1,100 physicians and 1,700 nurses, Rex was the first hospital in the competitive Triangle region of North Carolina to receive Magnet Recognition; named by Modern Healthcare among the top 100 Best Places to Work in Healthcare in 2008, 2009 and 2011; highlighted by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of the Top 50 Hospitals in the U.S. in 2011 and among Becker’s Top 100 Hospitals in 2012 and 2013.
“David is an accomplished hospital executive, recognized for his focus on physician relations, quality care, patient and co-worker satisfaction, and improved fiscal outcomes. We believe he has the experience, knowledge, skills and ability to successfully lead Orlando Health into the future,” said Orlando Health board chair Dianna Morgan.
Strong and his wife, Grace, were also heavily involved in community and charitable organizations in the Tar Heel state. He chaired the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, American Heart Association’s Triangle Heart Ball, and Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Triangle Light the Night Walk, the United Way of the Greater Triangle Campaign, and served on boards of CHRISTUS Health, North Carolina Symphony, North Carolina Hospital Association and First Citizens BancShares-Triangle.