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Should my hospital network have a System Director of Surgical Services

May 17, 2021


Should my hospital network have a System Director of Surgical Services

What does a System Director bring to the table? In a word, standardization. During our Power List series, we found out that the ability to provide high-quality care across multiple facilities is the central advantage of standardization. A byproduct of that is cost savings, which could more than pay for the investment in a System Director. Here are more highlights from our Power Listers. 


Brian Dawson, System VP of Perioperative Services 

System: CommonSpirit Health 

Facilities: 120 hospitals across 21 states 

COVID proved one thing for sure: that when it comes to hospitals, most of our revenue comes from elective surgery and procedures. Why not invest in that area? One of the top investments you would want to make is in a position like mine. If hiring the right person allows you to expand best practices, be it clinical, patient safety, patient satisfaction, capital, or process improvement, you can expand that across your enterprise. The amount of money that this position can help you generate or save is worth the dollars spent.


Cindy Girdusky, VP of Perioperative Services 

System: Mount Sinai Health System 

Facilities: Four out of nine, Beth Israel, New York Eye and Ear InfirmaryUnion Square Outpatient, Chelsea Outpatient

Having a System Director allows a CEO or CNO access to the full perioperative picture. Creating a vision for this department requires a deep understanding that a system leader can bring to the table.


Sheldrick Streete, System VP of Surgical Services 

System: Baystate Health System 

Facilities: Baystate Medical, Franklin, Wing, Noble, Baystate Children’s 

A system-level position will bring value through standardization in practice, process, flow, throughput, quality, safety, patient satisfaction, decrease in cost, and increase in revenue. An example of standardizing operating room supplies would be creating orthopedic and spinal implant contracts that capitate costs or limit vendor selection. Another example is creating standard preadmission work among all sites that eliminates redundancy, waste, and omissions that could lead to day-of-surgery cancellations. Operating room utilization is another value add from having a system leader in place who has the knowledge, ability, and talent to work at a higher level in the organization.


Tim Kernan, System Director of Surgical Services 

System: Southern Illinois Healthcare 

Facilities: Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, Herrin, St. Joseph Memorial 

When you have a system of facilities that don’t have similar processes, that is a problem. We want our general surgeons to use the same instruments because there is power in purchase and power in doing things the same way. You have less error. The more we train our staff to have the same competencies, the easier it is for me to flex. With COVID, we are under much more pressure to come up with ways to save money and improve efficiencies. Anytime you want to look at true savings and standardization, you need someone that can look at the bigger picture. You can’t have individual CEOs dealing with hospital administrators and individual OR directors all the time. You need someone specifically in charge of that. do think one of the challenges of standardization is maintaining culture. But you don’t have to change your hospital culture to standardize. You’re a family hospital, yes, but you are also a part of a bigger entity. 


Vangie Dennis, System VP of Perioperative Services 

System: AnMed Health 

Facilities: Medical Center Campus, North Campus

I think this role is best for a bigger system because an organization can get so large that effectiveness is lost in translation or gets convoluted. If you have more than two centers, you need a system director. I also would have that individual report to the COO or CEO, instead of a CNO. A large part of the system director’s job is focused on operations and increasing revenue, while a CNO is primarily centered on nursing. A dotted line to the CNO and a solid line to the CEO or COO is best.


Vickie Montei, System Director for Surgical Services 

System: MidMichigan Health 

Facilities: Alpena, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Midland, Mt. Pleasant, West Branch 

I would highly recommend it for a system with more than two facilities. In that scenario, there needs to be a content expert and facilitator to help create guidelines and guardrails to standardize the care that surgical patients receive.To remain accreditation ready, it is also important to ensure that this system point person can continue to promote readiness every day – not just at accreditation periods. Finally, efficiency KPIs are the most important variable to the improvement of overall OR utilization. Each subsidiary within the system needs to understand the system’s strategic goal and be a part of improving patient access to the OR. The system leader is the conduit to navigating each facility’s nuances in meeting the established KPI goals.