We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Jeff Comer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Jeff, what do you attribute your success to?
For me, the there are two factors that have led to a great deal of my professional success as a hospital CEO: being visible and persevering.
First, always being visible in my organization has provided numerous benefits to me personally and to the organizations I have led. By rounding through all departments each day, I can get to know my employees and help to resolve any issues they may be facing. This enables me to have a solid understanding of daily operational issues and helps me to build relationships and credibility with my staff. By addressing barriers my staff is encountering I can help to provide a more fulfilling, meaningful, and enjoyable work environment, which greatly reduces employee burn out and improves retention. Additionally, I can immediately diagnose any problems that my customers may be encountering, leading to better customer experiences and loyalty.
Second, persevering through difficult situations is a necessity for a CEO. The hospital CEO role can be very stressful and challenging. For example, hospital CEO’s have many stakeholders that have divergent interests with whom they must communicate and get on board with strategy, including patients, employees, physicians, board members, managers, commercial payers, unions, governmental agencies, regulatory agencies, and the community served. The CEO often has to make difficult decisions for the betterment of the hospital overall. However, these decisions may negatively impact these various stakeholders. The ability to persevere through difficult times with a consistent eye to the future is a hallmark of all good CEOs.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I have spent a considerable portion of my career going into hospitals that are struggling. Many of them were at the brink of closure, requiring immediate actions to ensure their viability. My task as CEO was to keep them open. This often involved making the very hard decisions that no one else wanted to make. Painful decisions such as closing down service lines that were not busy, losing money, and of poor quality. This has taken a tremendous toll on me personally throughout the years. However, by making the tough decisions there are many hospitals still open in this nation because of me. I am very proud of that and humbled that I have been able to positively impact the health care provided in many communities.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
For me this is an easy question! I am a native of the beautiful Sonoran desert in which we live. There are few things I enjoy more than to show people the amazing beauty and life that is in the desert! People that are not from here erroneously, and sadly, think the desert is a dead, life-less place void of splendor. So, I love take people back into the lush, dense desert and let them see for themselves the life that exists and magnificent variety that is present!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I give a lot of my career credit to my mom and dad. My dad was a hospital CEO for 40+ years, and of course mom was right there with him throughout the career challenges. Dad taught the importance of being visible in my organization, persevering, and not taking myself too seriously as a CEO. Mom taught me the importance of not forgetting to watch the sunsets. I can’t think of better advice than that!