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Courtesy of UNM Hospital

Courtesy of UNM Hospital

UNMH comes closer to selecting new CEO

The University of New Mexico Hospital has reached the final stages of selecting a new CEO.

Three finalists were named in the search for CEO — Kate Becker, Deborah McGrew and Herbert Buchanan. Each candidate held a town hall on UNM North Campus during the month of April, during which they described their plans for UNM Hospital and answered questions from hospital employees.

Becker is the president of the St. Louis University Hospital, a teaching hospital and level I trauma center in Missouri. She received her education degrees in law and public health.

“I believe our first priority has to be safety and quality,” Becker said at her town hall, adding that the care UNMH provides needs to be patient focused, rather than disease focused.

Becker also discussed a three part “educational strand.” She said she wants to work with the hospital to get better at communication, coordination and managing costs.

Becker’s family is from Albuquerque and she said she is happy to be back and to be in the running for this job.

McGrew comes from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. She currently serves as vice president and chief operating officer there.

She said if she gets the job, she plans to do lots of shadowing and listening to the organization, the board and the employees.

“If you’re expecting to move an organization in a new direction, you can’t do that without first working with faculty and staff,” McGrew said.

Some of the areas McGrew said she wants to focus on include reasonable healthcare costs, alternative payment models, patient and family centered care, and portfolio and workforce development.

McGrew said that being a hospital ranked above average is not enough. She said she wants to keep working and improving the hospital until there are zero defects.

Buchanan is the president of Indiana University Health Methodist and University Hospitals in Indianapolis. He received his master’s degree in business administration, and has additional undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering.

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“One of the things that attracts me to this organization is that you are as focused and committed as anyone I’ve seen,” Buchanan told employees at the town hall.

He said he wants UNMH to continue to have a strong presence in the community. He wants to leverage partnerships and relationships, making UNMH not just known locally, but nationally as well.

Buchanan said he also wants to work on physician engagement, utilizing rapidly growing technology, fostering innovation, and tapping into resources and young minds at UNM.

“Academic hospitals are all trying to figure out where the future is going and how to best position ourselves,” Buchanan said. “The environment has to be innovative and adaptive and the leaders have to be comfortable with that.”

The three finalists for the CEO position concluded their campus visits last week. Now Chancellor Dr. Paul Roth and search committee co-chairs Michael Richards and Jerry McDowell have the difficult decision of choosing one of the candidates to hire and lead the hospital.

The new CEO is expected to start at UNMH this summer.

Catherine Stringam is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @cathey_stringam.

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