The Helpful Contrarian

December 08, 2014

As a member of the Saint John’s Health Center board of trustees, Michael M. Minchin, Jr., considers it his duty to think outside the box. Indeed, he used some ingenuity and persistence to bring an interesting health care improvement project to the Health Center several years ago.

Minchin, a long-time trustee, was contacted by a gentleman who wished to make a $1 million gift to The John Douglas French Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, where Minchin serves as president. But the donor wanted the money directed toward Alzheimer’s patient care, and The John Douglas French Alzheimer’s Research Foundation was focused on research.

So Minchin contemplated the problem and began asking local hospitals if they had any programs to train nurses who care for patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. None of the hospitals had such a program, but the administrators at Saint John’s Health Center embraced the concept and said they would welcome the training.

Minchin found an advanced practice nurse who provided the training at Saint John’s, which was a great success. Such programs are needed, he says, as rates of dementia increase in the United States.

“I went to Saint John’s with the idea because it was my hospital of record and because it was not ladened with the type of bureaucracy you find in big institutions,” he says. “My experience with Saint John’s has been that they are hands-on, extremely involved and willing to move forward.”

He also chose the Health Center for his personal health care several years ago when he needed heart valve surgery. Although Minchin’s physicians all practiced at Saint John’s, he researched cardiovascular surgeons in the region thoroughly before his search brought him right back to Saint John’s. John M. Robertson, MD, director of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, performed the successful surgery.

My heart is with Saint John's in two ways. The Health Center fixed my heart and gave me all these additional healthy years. Now I will do what I can to support the expansion of cardiac care at the hospital." – Mike Minchin 

Minchin is now a member of the Foundation’s cardiac committee, which is working to raise funds for a heart valve clinic specializing in transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a new minimally invasive alternative to conventional aortic valve replacement.

“My heart is with Saint John’s in two ways,” he notes. “The Health Center fixed my heart and gave me all these additional healthy years. Now I will do what I can to support the expansion of cardiac care at the hospital.”

Once he sets his mind to something, Minchin is a force to be reckoned with. He has enjoyed a highly successful career as an independent consultant to several publicly held companies.

Prior to his work as a consultant, he was chairman of the board of Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., the parent company of the Souplantation restaurant.

He holds a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard and a bachelor’s degree from Stanford. He grew up in Los Angeles and resides in the city with his wife, Carolyn.

Minchin loves mentoring people, has been involved in starting three schools in Southern California and is a member of several boards. He champions a can-do attitude in his work as a trustee.

“As a contrarian, I try to bring that focus into whatever I do,” he says. “I welcome fresh thinking. Too many times people are burdened by repeating old ways, rather than trying to change the environment and look at new approaches. Saint John’s is always striving to raise the level of excellence.”