Q) In terms of style describe the way you manage.
Answer: I think I have a very transparent management style. I share a great deal with my top management staff, as well as with the entire organization because I believe that establishing goals, and cascading them down throughout the whole organization is the best way to get everyone engaged and working toward the same objectives. It’s also the best way to establish performance metrics and hold people accountable for what they are expected to achieve.
At the same time, I know I don’t have all the answers, so I encourage feedback from key staff, which often sheds important light that helps me when making certain decisions that will impact the organization as a whole. I value honesty, and I want the people I trust to give me honest opinions. As long as those opinions are delivered with conviction and with the good of the organization in mind, I value that. My job is to establish a vision and then make clear decisions.
Q) Do you see yourself as a strategic or operational leader?
Answer: Strategic or operational leader – I am a strategic leader. I focus ON the business, not IN the business. Healthcare is a constantly changing field. We are heavily regulated, and the rules change frequently, so it is important to set a strategy that will place the hospital on solid footing regardless of what new regulations may be promulgated or payment models change. We needed to decide, for example, how to remain vibrant and grow to meet the needs of the communities we serve whether the push toward population health grows stronger, or whether the fee-for-service model remains in effect. We made the strategic decision that partnering with NYU Langone Medical Center was the best way to ensure that, regardless of what happened, we will be around as an institution to continue to meet the health needs of the Long Island market. We are very excited about this decision and we grow more optimistic every day that it was absolutely the right decision.
Q) In the overall scheme of things how important would company culture be and why?
Answer: For better or worse, culture is part of an organization’s DNA. I think a culture that doesn’t help define an organization, that doesn’t help set it apart, isn’t very useful or isn’t being managed well by the chief executive. At Winthrop, we have a very distinctive and somewhat unique culture of caring and compassion that is actually palpable when you come here. It sounds almost obvious for a hospital to say that, but it is not true everywhere. Patients feel it, and new employees, who come here from other places, begin to sense it almost immediately. It is “family.” People care about one another; they “have each other’s back,” as they say, and they care very much for the patients they treat. That culture has been around here for decades and decades, and it is what sets Winthrop apart in terms of healthcare organizations in our region. One of my greatest responsibilities is making sure that we are able to maintain that culture, even as we grow – from the community hospital, we were just a few decades ago, into the major academic medical center we are today, with over 8,500 employees and sites all over Long Island. One of the key reasons we chose to partner with NYU Langone is that we saw in them a culture that was very similar to our own. Like us, they are very patient-centered, and they focus on people to drive quality and to collaborate with one another to ensure that they provide the very best care every single day.
Q) Because we don’t operate in a vacuum and must have skilled people help build on our company vision, what are the key elements you look for in a person and what does it take to get the right team in place?
Answer: Key elements to look for in a person. — Obviously, we must have people who are highly qualified to satisfy their job requirements. That goes without saying. But in my senior team, I look for individuals with integrity, loyalty and the ability to work together in a collaborative environment. The healthcare industry has so many diverse factors that are constantly changing, and it would be impossible for one single person to do everything on their own. You must rely on others who have expertise and skills to complement your own, and together, as a team, great things can happen. Yet if people’s mindsets are solely focused on themselves, and not for the overall greater good, they are destined to fail. People who “don’t play well in the sandbox” do not last here at Winthrop. I want to promote an environment where there is mutual respect, a polite and free exchange of ideas, and a constant awareness that the patient comes first.
About John Collins
With 40 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Mr. Collins has had an illustrious career at some of the leading healthcare institutions on Long Island. An expert on healthcare policy and funding who is often invited to speak to his peers on such topics, Mr. Collins has been actively involved with several healthcare organizations to shape and improve quality healthcare in our region. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater New York Hospital Association, where he is Chair of the Investment Committee. In addition, he is an active member of the Region 2 Planning Council of the American Hospital Association.
Mr. Collins is a past-president of the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) Metropolitan New York Chapter, and is a past-Chairman of the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council Committee on Finance. On several occasions, he has been honored with awards from the HFMA, and in 2013, was among eight men honored by Networking Magazine with a prestigious David Award for performing generous and unselfish acts for the greater good.
At Winthrop-University hospital, Mr. Collins has been an integral member of the Winthrop leadership team for 20 years, working closely with members of the Hospital’s Board of Directors, medical staff and senior administration to provide expert management of all aspects of the Hospital’s operations. Under his leadership, Winthrop became the first hospital on Long Island to qualify for a financial incentive for the meaningful use of certified electronic health record technology to achieve its health and efficiency goals, and was recognized in the first-ever edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals Metro Area Rankings for 10 high performing specialties. Most recently, his vision and strategic leadership have been instrumental in helping Winthrop enter into an affiliation agreement with NYU Langone Medical Center that will bring the two organizations together to expand, enhance and clinically integrate its healthcare networks on Long Island.