At tables corralled into one corner of the Spring Creek Ranch conference room Sept. 16, the St. John’s Medical Center Board of Trustees took a hard look at its own operations. The board convened a special meeting to perform some housecleaning, inviting members of the hospital’s physician leadership to discuss physician engagement, board improvement and CEO Paul Beaupre’s goals for the organization.

First on the list was the hospital’s physicians feeling more connected to the administration and board of trustees. The hospital administers a physician engagement survey every year and an employee engagement survey every two years. In the latest physician survey, only 43% of doctors participated, and of those who did just 43% responded positively to a question about how satisfied they were with efforts to involve them in the hospital’s decision-making.

“What are the barriers?” Trustee Liz Masek asked. “Are there real things or preconceived assumptions that interfere?”

Though physicians answered positively in some areas, such as communication and safety, the board and the assembled administrators discussed that it was necessary to improve the numbers in the annual survey.

“Why do we care?” asked Bob Pisano, vice chairman of the St. John’s Hospital Foundation board. “Because in order to have a high-performance organization, the elements have to talk with each other.”

Several ideas were examined, including inviting board members to the quarterly town halls the hospital holds for its employees, and otolaryngologist Dr. Martin Trott brought up the idea of board members meeting with physicians for breakfast. Beaupre floated sharing his CEO reports with the staff so they can stay apprised of the high-level direction of the hospital.

The trustees and administrators didn’t set any action plans on employee engagement before moving on to consideration of two main factors of the board’s operation: efficiency and succession. Chairwoman Cynthia Hogan was blunt in laying out one problem she saw.

“How do we make our board meetings better?” she asked. “They’re kind of the same all the time, kind of boring.”

Board members agreed that the number of committees they sit on needed to be reduced so they weren’t pulled in as many directions. Hospital board bylaws describe seven committees for the trustees to be on and stipulate that multiple trustees must sit on some of them.

Hogan said that for efficiency’s sake the number should be reduced. She thought that could also add to board transparency, because with fewer committees each one could present at the board’s monthly meetings. Currently, each committee does not make a presentation on a monthly basis. She also said board advisor David Robertson and Beaupre would begin the paring down and would have ideas by the January board meeting.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

(1) comment

laurie bush

It's eye opening, to repeatedly read no concerns about the nurses at St. John's. Their wages have hardly moved over the past ten plus years, in one of the richest counties in the country. They are the organization. The nurses are who we remember in an hour of need.

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