At the end of last year, Heather Rohan assumed her position as President of HCA’s TriStar Division, which includes 22 hospitals in Tennessee, North Georgia and Kentucky. With more than 30 years of experience with HCA, Heather is more than equipped to do the job. She most recently held the title of CEO at TriStar Centennial Medical Center, but she is a nurse, first and foremost — a career she chose after her father’s life was saved by nurses. “A career in healthcare is the most rewarding career anyone can choose,” she tells us. The difference she is able to make through her work with HCA is a reward greater than many can imagine. If her first two months and boundless desire to bring care to each patient are any indication, she offers a bright future at TriStar Health. We welcome the intelligent, inspiring and caring Heather Rohan as today’s FACE of Nashville.
Tell us about your 30-year career with HCA. How has this prepared you for your current position?
I am a nurse, and my first job with HCA was Assistant Chief Nursing Officer. Through a series of different opportunities, I have been lucky to be a chief nursing officer, chief operating officer and chief executive officer. I am so grateful for these opportunities. The collective experience of these jobs has helped shape who I am today. I’ve worked in big hospitals; I’ve worked in small hospitals. That has given me the chance to see how care is provided in all of those different settings.
The chance to come to TriStar Centennial in 2012 was a tremendous opportunity. At TriStar Centennial, as you walk through the hallways, you can feel the culture and the legacy that Dr. Thomas Frist, Sr. created. Everyone has value and makes a contribution to caring for the patient. No matter your role, you play a very important part in taking care of our patients. Working at TriStar Centennial familiarized me with the Nashville market and prepared me for this new role. Each experience has provided something that will be helpful and productive in my position.
What motivated the move from nursing to the administrative side?
As a bedside nurse, I was intrigued by how other departments worked with each other. As a nurse leader, I started to wonder if I had the ability to oversee other departments and if we could do a better job of bringing services to the patients more expediently. I became interested in how the hospital ran so I moved along that path. In a departmental role, you are overseeing all departments that work with nursing. As CEO, you take everything into account and bring it all together. To me, that was really exciting.
What differentiates TriStar Health from other programs?
What is really unique and wonderful about TriStar Health is the many different access points. We were founded here in Nashville but we have facilities in key geographic areas within Middle Tennessee and beyond. We are growing north into Hendersonville, we have grown east with TriStar Summit Medical Center, south with TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center, west with TriStar Horizon Medical Center and beyond. Outside the hospitals, we have other access points (including free standing ERs, Urgent Care and physician offices).
What are three top priorities you hope to accomplish in your tenure?
- Continue to bring care to the patient through access points and service and be able to respond to patients’ needs.
- Retain a strong workforce. We are as good as the people who work with us. TriStar employees are our most important resource. We can build better facilities, but it is the people in the facilities that I get letters about. No one writes letters about granite or marble or even our great technology. They write letters about the people who took care of them and connected with them.
- Identify additional opportunities for growth within our markets.
Each month, we feature a FACE of TriStar. Why do you think it is important to introduce both caregivers and patients to the community?
Every patient has a story, and every employee has a story. We tell those stories because patient care is personal and unique. The experience that a patient has with someone from TriStar, whether it be a security guard or a nurse, it is the most important. Healthcare is a connection between a person providing care and a patient. Telling stories makes sure we always remember how important the personal touch is — and always will be.
Can you discuss some of your biggest successes and also some of the challenges you face in your job?
The rewards of my job are seeing patients and being able to provide for patients at the (often) most challenging time of their life. If you are having baby, it is your choice to go to the hospital; it is something we plan for. But we also meet patients who are in tough times — they have a child who has a seizure, a wife who has a stroke, a brother with a heart condition. Being able to provide services to all people in our community is the most rewarding thing.
What will be important is the ability to plan for providing access to care for all of these patients. On the workforce side, it is creating an environment to ensure the people who work for us are happy, fulfilled and excited about their jobs. At TriStar, our role is to support the facilities. We serve as a support so they can do their jobs better and take care of patients more effectively.
What does a day in the life of Heather Rohan look like?
There aren’t any typical days, which is great. I love doing something new every day. There are so many different things that I get to do — visiting facilities, speaking with physicians, partners, leaders and employees — no two days are alike.
Locally, you serve on the boards of Second Harvest Food Bank, United Way of Middle Tennessee, American Heart Association and the HCA Foundation. What about the Nashville community and organizations do you find so attractive?
Nashville has a warm culture. The people are friendly and embracing. People want to help. It is a generous city that is exciting and eclectic. As we grow, we get all kinds of folks coming to build and construct, but you can still find interesting local venues. The music is great, the food is great. I also love the places surrounding the city. You can find parks so close to town. You can avail yourself of any kind of experience that you want in Nashville.
Where can we find you when you aren’t working?
Hiking! I love to hike at Radnor Lake, and I spend a lot of time doing that. I enjoy reading. I have a small hobby in jewelry making, and I like to write poetry.
What books are on your bedside table?
HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Managing Yourself, which is vignettes of thought leaders in management. There is a book by the folks at the Ritz-Carlton about how to provide great service, The New Gold Standard. In terms of fiction, I enjoy mysteries and thrillers.
What is an important piece of advice you have been given?
Always keep the patient at the center of your conversation, and to paraphrase the Tim McGraw song, be humble and be kind. Those things make sense all of the time.
Excluding friends, family and faith, what are three things you can’t live without?
My hikes, a little bit of exercise everyday and meditation.
Thank you, Heather, for taking the time to answer our questions! And a special thanks to Ashley Hylbert for today’s gorgeous pictures!
Pam Davis, RN, MBA, is a Certified Bariatric Nurse and this month’s FACE of TriStar. She shares her powerful story of how a health scare prompted her to make a life-changing decision and how that ultimately led to her current position and the impactful work she does as TriStar’s Center for Weight Management program director. Click here to read her story.