Part 1: How a CEO Empowered Staff to Save $3M and Their Jobs

Philip Betbeze, March 25, 2011

"I could be retired in the Hamptons right now," said the Chicago hospital CEO.

He said it in a joking kind of way, but it's clear Mark Newton knows he's given up a lot to be the president and CEO of Swedish Covenant Hospital, a 120-year-old, 206-staffed-bed community facility on Chicago's North Side.

Newton, who's led the hospital since 2000, is a healthcare entrepreneur with the MBA to prove it from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University. He came into hospital leadership after a career in marketing for Baxter Worldwide, an international pharmaceutical and medical device company.

"Initially it was a management challenge, and now that's evolved to a sense of appreciation for the ability to impact people in a positive way. I appreciate the intellectual challenges this provides. I could've gone to work for Goldman and I could be retired in the Hamptons right now, and there are times when I think that was a career choice mistake," he says with a chuckle.

But only rarely does he have those thoughts anymore. Newton sees himself as a healthcare entrepreneur, and says his breed is scarce in hospital leadership. And more important than what he's given up is what he's gained.

"I have so much appreciation for when you solve one of these issues and see how it helps people," he says.

By one of "these issues," Newton is talking about patient volume declines that came with the recession. Other leaders, when faced with similar challenges, enacted layoffs or other draconian cost-cutting measures.

But before we get into how Newton avoided doing that, a little background is necessary. He comes by his entrepreneurship naturally, and his early life prepared him to find unconventional solutions to common problems.

Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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