Beating the Drum for Saint John’s Health Center

January 10, 2013

Q & A with Dr. John M. Robertson

Dr. John M. Robertson
Dr. John M. Robertson

Saint John’s Health Center Foundation heads into an exciting future with John M. Robertson, MD, who was recently installed as the chairman of the Foundation board of trustees. Dr. Robertson joined the medical staff at Saint John’s Health Center on a full-time basis in 1991 and is the chief of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery. He has been a Foundation trustee for 17 years.

Q: How will you balance your roles as chairman of the Foundation board and as a physician?
“I see myself as always being out there beating the drum for Saint John’s Health Center. I frequently give lectures to various groups about the Health Center. As chairman, I’ll be responsible for representing my fellow trustees along with Bob Klein, the president of the Foundation. As chief of heart surgery, I’m actively involved in clinical care – in operations – on a daily basis. I sit on numerous medical staff committees. There’s a lot to participate in at Saint John’s, and I enjoy being involved! I usually start my day at 6 or 7 a.m., and many times I finish at 9 or 10 at night.”

Q: What would you most like people to know as the Health Center becomes part of Providence Health & Services?
“People have to be assured that Saint John’s Health Center will continue to provide the outstanding care they’ve come to know and expect. The tradition of the Sisters will remain. Providence has a similar vision.”

Q: Will the hospital’s executive team change?
“Providence has shared that they want to engage us, the physicians as well as the trustees, in selecting personnel who will be leading the hospital. The new CEO of the hospital, whoever that may be, should be willing to listen to and seek guidance from the medical staff and the board of directors. Providence has suggested to us that several trustees and physicians will re-populate the hospital’s board of directors and be part of the search committee for the new CEO.”

Q: What is your top goal at the Foundation?
“The #1 priority is to get back to business as usual. We plan to engage our colleagues at Providence and, as they become close associates, help them understand the importance of philanthropy in our community. Due to recent events, there are donors who have held off in giving. We want to reassure all of our donors that this hospital is here for the long haul. The hospital has been ranked as one of the 50 Best Hospitals for seven years in a row by Healthgrades, and we also place in the top 5% of hospitals in cardiac services, women’s health and joint replacements. We received a top rating for knee and hip replacement services by Consumer Reports. We have a lot to be proud of. That is not going to change.”

Q: What are some of the future goals for Saint John’s Health Center?
“Our goal is to increase the number of doctors and specialists as well as the number of insurance companies with contracts here so that we increase the number of patients who come to Saint John’s. We’ve retained an outstanding roster of doctors who are excited to be here.”

Q: How will Saint John’s Health Center fit into Providence’s group of hospitals?
“I think Providence recognizes that they are getting an outstanding addition to their Southern California network of hospitals. They are so proud to be sponsoring this facility. They want to put resources into the Health Center so it grows and gets better and stronger. If you look at the Sisters who founded the Providence organization, they have similarities to the Sisters of Charity. Our mission statements are similar. They believe in caring for the poor and vulnerable. Like Saint John’s Health Center, all faiths are welcome.”

Q: How will the strength of Providence Health & Services benefit Saint John’s Health Center?
“By joining Providence, we are joining the largest Catholic hospital network in the Western United States and the secondlargest health system in Los Angeles, second only to Kaiser Permanente. Their financial strength and resources will be a source of growth for Saint John’s Health Center.”

Q: Explain why our physicians play such an important role in the Foundation’s mission?
“Our physicians are an integral part of our continued success. They have the day-to-day contact with our patients who so often want to do something meaningful for the doctors who have helped them. Doctors can make the connection between a grateful patient and Foundation staff – which leads to philanthropic gifts. That benefits the Health Center, the doctors and all of our patients.”

Q: Why do physicians want to work at Saint John’s?
“This is the ideal environment for the private practice of medicine. Physicians at Saint John’s can manage their own practice in a beautiful community amidst the mission of the Sisters, with outstanding nurses and the support of the Foundation. This is university-academic medicine practiced in a private practice environment. You get the best of both worlds.”