The Garden State Woman Education Foundation selected Deborah K. Zastocki, DNP, RN, President and CEO of Chilton Memorial Hospital, as the 2008 leader in the health-care field. Recognizing her dedication to the community, she received the “Gets It” award for 2008. Selected from a record number of nominees, the foundation committee members recognized her important role in health education for women and their families. She was honored at the 4th Annual Awards luncheon in January 2009 at the Park Avenue Club.
A character trait that many women bring to the leadership table is inclusiveness. Their view of the world is often one of fostering harmony rather than encouraging divisiveness. This point of view can facilitate a spirit of cooperation that enables a group to look for results and to focus on the big picture rather than individual needs and wants.
Taking care of others is instinctive for Deborah. “I think I am hard-wired to be concerned for others” stated Ms Zastocki. “As a child, I recall being protective of a fellow student who was blind. My natural reaction was to try to make sure she was involved in everything. Even my teachers noticed this and commented on it frequently.”
Growing up in the small borough of Millstone, New Jersey, Ms Zastocki was accepted to the University of Rhode Island where she graduated a semester ahead of her class with Highest Distinction and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She continued her formal education at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York, achieving a Master of Arts in Nursing Education and a Master of Education in Community Health. In 2008 she graduated as the Doctoral student of Excellence with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) School of Nursing in Newark, NJ. She is also a certified health-care executive, was inducted as a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE), and is certified in Nursing Administration, Advanced – CNAA.
Among her published works in professional journals are articles; A Toolbox for Managing in Turbulent Environments; her co-authored two books: Home Care: Patient and Family Instructions and Home Care: A Technical Manual for the Professional Nurse.
“As CEO of Chilton Memorial Hospital, it is my job to create an environment that allows everyone to be the best that he/she can be. For today’s executives the challenge is to create a team mindset from a diverse group of people. There are different work orientations that come into play based on an individual’s generation. For example, pre baby boomers, baby boomers, and post baby boomers all have their own approaches to their jobs with their own unique mindset. Simply stated, pre baby boomers come to work, expect to follow authority’s directions, and tackle the job; Baby boomers are more inclined to expect the decision making process to be inclusive; they expect to be consulted before they are assigned a task. The post boomers are least trusting of institutions and likely to assume that they understand the task and move forward, sometimes without seeking direction.” It goes without saying that recruiting talent that demonstrates strong leadership traits, as well as a work ethic that pursues excellence, is critical to patient care. These traits are equally important at the board level and the Medical Staff.
Another important aspect of being a hospital executive is the appreciation of the importance of attracting and keeping a first class medical staff. There are many external forces that affect this. The community hospital has an important role to play in meeting the needs of physicians and their patients. There is a strong bond of trust that must be nurtured between physicians and the health-care institution. They must feel comfortable with the knowledge that every patient matters to the hospital staff and that the staff is professional and trained in the latest technologies. Community hospitals not only deliver quality care, but also have a strong focus on meeting the consumer’s needs from admission to discharge in a personal and caring manner.
"...it is vitally important that we
embrace the concept of prevention as
our first line of defense..."
One of the greatest challenges in the delivery of health care today is managing the cost. While there is much discussion about mitigating high costs through reforming our tort system as it relates to malpractice, that is only one piece of a very large and complex picture. New technologies in health-care are developed and utilized every day. Virtually every medical discipline has enjoyed treatment successes with the advent of new high-tech machinery and newly discovered drugs. Advances in the delivery of care have lowered the length of stay for most hospital patients, decreased medical errors, and focused on the accurate and seamless access to medical information among professionals. Investing in everything from up-to-date equipment to electronic medical records is vital to maintaining the quality of a community hospital. These initiatives require significant resources. However, a good community hospital also strives to proactively protect the health of the community through disease prevention programs. Perhaps the best investment in health care today, keeping our residents well also keeps our costs down.
There are many ways a health-care institution can encourage individuals to practice healthy lifestyles. Basic things such as exercise, good nutrition, adequate sleep and a stress-managed mindset are important to maintain a healthy body. Community hospitals are experts in developing and tailoring programs for their residents. Programs geared toward a geriatric population not only address the complex medical issues of advancing age, but also the effects of social isolation and mental health issues prevalent in an older population. Programs for working adults respect their busy lifestyles and are held early mornings or evenings. The community’s needs are assessed on a regular basis and programs developed to address those needs. It takes self-discipline to focus on wellness. But, with more and more people living longer, and the efforts to deliver cost-effective care; it is vitally important that we embrace the concept of prevention as our first line of defense in health care.