When Michele Kidd Sutton came to North Oaks Health System 28 years ago,
she never imagined that one day she would be responsible for overseeing
a nationally recognized health care organization with 2,600 employees.
But in January, Sutton will assume the position as North Oaks President/Chief
Executive Officer. She is replacing James E. Cathey Jr., who is transitioning
into a yet-to-be defined role with the organization after 30 years of
service at the helm.
“I’m honored to be the new CEO of this outstanding organization,”
Sutton shares, “and excited to be working with our amazing team
of employees and clinicians to care for our community.”
Sutton, 53, is a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University and a Metairie
native, but she and her husband Wayne have called Hammond home for years.
She also has an extensive resume of community service and honors, including
being an active member of the Rotary Club of Hammond and her beloved FeLions.
“My heart and soul have been in this community for decades. This
is where I chose to live as a young professional entering the work force,
and I’ve never regretted that decision.”
After receiving both a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and a master’s
degree in Business Administration from SLU, Sutton joined a local bank
as a marketing officer. In 1988, she came to North Oaks (or Seventh Ward
General Hospital as it was known then) as Community Resources Officer,
a position she held for 18 years. During that time, she also taught Marketing
at her alma mater. A little known fact – she also has been certified
as an Emergency Medical Technician!
In 2006, Sutton was promoted to senior management as Executive Vice President/Chief
Operating Officer. With a zest for professional development and continuing
education, she completed a fellowship program with the American College
of Healthcare Executives and became board certified in Healthcare Administration
in 2009. An added responsibility was presented to Sutton in 2012 when
she was named Administrator/Chief Executive Officer of North Oaks Medical
Center, the system’s 330-bed acute care hospital.
The rapidly changing environment of health care is challenging, but Cathey
touts Sutton’s track record of success as evidence she is up to
navigating the complexities of the industry.
“Be assured that North Oaks is in the most competent of hands,”
Cathey notes. “Michele’s leadership and insight have been
a large factor in the growth of the health system. Her experience and
background have given her the foundation to successfully lead this organization
into the future.”
When she first arrived at North Oaks, 100 physicians were on staff. Today,
under Sutton’s guidance, the number of doctors, nurse practitioners
and physician assistants exceeds 400. Sutton also played an integral role
in development of the strategic plan to initiate the health system’s
recent $250 million expansion project, as well as numerous new product
and service lines.
In the inaugural days of her new role, Sutton plans to hold internal forums
with staff, schedule civic presentations and sponsor town halls for the
public. She also will create consumer councils and add community members
to North Oaks’ quality committees.
Open communication and collaboration with the community are priorities
for Sutton. “I’m going to be asking for lots of input from
the public,” she explains. “There is no question that community
support is key to our continued success.”
She’s especially enthusiastic about town hall meetings.
“It will be a great chance for people to let us know what’s
important to them in terms of wellness and health care. And in turn, we
will be sharing news about North Oaks. Some might say that we’ve
hidden our light under the bushel basket -- I don’t think that everyone
is fully aware of the breadth of services and quality of health care North
Sutton offers up the medical center’s recent designation as a trauma
center as an example.
“This is a game-changer for those suffering traumatic injuries in
our region, because receiving immediate care vastly increases the odds
of survival and recovery.”
Additionally, the organization has been recognized by leading health care
groups for excellence in maternal and child care, inpatient and outpatient
medical rehabilitation and fighting infections.
“Did you know that North Oaks is in the top 3 percent
in the world for successfully helping people recover from stroke and traumatic brain
injuries? Or that patients rank our clinics and diagnostic services in
the top 10 percent in the nation for excellent patient experience? We
are very honored by the recognition, but I’m proudest of our incredibly
dedicated team,” she adds.
Sutton credits North Oaks’ organizational values as the foundation
for its success: a focus on caring, compassion, communication and commitment.
And, she intends to make sure those values continue to guide the delivery
high quality care and patient experiences.
“Our culture is at the heart of what we do. We are committed to be
at our best when you, your family or your friends are at their most vulnerable
and need help,” Sutton remarks. “With the support of our community
and our employees and physicians, North Oaks Health System will realize
its vision to be our region’s most trusted partner for exceptional
quality, safety and experience.”