Detroit Medical Center CEO Dr. Audrey Gregory on the perspective she brings to her role

Mar 4, 2020

Audrey Gregory, PhD, RN, was president of Detroit Medical Center and CEO of the organization's adult central campus. Now she is transitioning into the role of CEO, overseeing the whole medical center.

Dr. Gregory will lead the largest healthcare provider in Southeast Michigan with eight hospitals and more than 12,000 employees. She joined the medical center from Saint Francis Healthcare System in Memphis (Tenn.), where she was market CEO for Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare and CEO of St. Francis Hospital–Memphis.

Dr. Gregory told Becker's Hospital Review she is excited about her new position, specifically the investment of staff in the medical center. She shared her goals for her first year as CEO, discussed the perspective she brings to the role and had some advice for other hospital CEOs.

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: What has you most excited about your new role as CEO of Detroit Medical Center?

Dr. Audrey Gregory: The level of commitment that the team has, whether it's our staff or physicians, around the success of the DMC. They're personally invested, and that, for me, is exciting.

Q: What are a few of your top priorities for your first year as Detroit Medical Center's top leader?

AG: Recognizing the pivotal role DMC plays in the community and not losing sight of that. I think we've always and will continue to have the mission of providing compassionate, high quality and safe care to the city of Detroit and surrounding community.

The second thing I want to make sure remains a priority is a commitment to the experience of our patients. In line with our mission, it's making sure our patients are having an exceptional experience when they come to any of our DMC facilities.

Thirdly, whether it's the Children's Hospital of Michigan, services for high-risk mothers, whether it's cardiovascular, making sure we continue to make those service lines high priority to our patients.

[Also], looking across where the nation is, I would say continuing to focus on things such as hospital-acquired conditions and ensure we have low rates of those as we continue to drive to zero, which is my ultimate goal.

I would also say maintaining engagement of morale of staff and physicians [is a priority]. I think that's important in today's healthcare environment.

Q: As a woman and minority leader, what perspective do you hope to bring to the position?

AG: I am proud enough to think I will do a good job. But I'm humble enough to recognize I'm standing on the shoulders of people who have gone ahead of me. I don't lose sight of the fact.

I think, though, being a person of color in an urban city allows me to truly understand all of our patient population. I come into this as a person of color, who also is female, who also is a mom, who also is a clinician. I would say those combined put me in the position to have a unique perspective from the point of view of the patient, from the point of view of the mom. Then understanding some of the challenges people of color face within the healthcare environment. Making sure we are equal in how we provide care. I think it does provide me that opportunity, whether for people of color or women in general. 

Q: What advice do you want to pass along to other hospital CEOs?

AG: The reminder that patient care is our true north. It is important that remains the focus for all of us as hospital CEOs. I think it may be a cliché, but change is inevitable, so that is something I apply to myself and that I want other CEOs reminded of. I think also the importance of not just visibility, but investing in people. Investing your time in that visibility, taking the time to invest in people. Then I would say finally: Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint. Self-care is very important.

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