Amy O’Brien is comfortable with big numbers. She earned a degree in accounting from Southeastern Louisiana University, after all. And she scored 1,088 points as a four year starter on the …
Amy O’Brien is comfortable with big numbers. She earned a degree in accounting from Southeastern Louisiana University, after all. And she scored 1,088 points as a four year starter on the basketball team. But the CEO of Audrain Community Hospital and Noble Health executive is also good with people.
“I got a degree in accounting and thought that’s what I was going to do,” she said. “And then I got into healthcare administration and fell in love.”
After adding a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration, she took leadership roles with a medical management consulting firm and then served as vice president of the Great River Health System in Burlington, Iowa, before moving to Mexico.
1. What are the first days as a CEO like?
It’s a heavy load. As CEO you feel the responsibility of making sure it all gets done so employees enjoy coming to work. But it’s also a team effort, and the staff have been very supportive.
2. You moved from Iowa. That sounds like Cub fan territory.
My husband and I are diehard Cardinals fans, so we’ll fit in. He’s from Macomb, Illinois. He went to college in Louisiana and was a basketball coach. That’s where we met.
3. That’s right – you played college basketball. Is it true what coaches say, that sports builds character?
Absolutely. It’s the hours you put in and the hours of classwork. And it comes at a time in your life when you’re trying to figure things out.
4. How did you find time to date?
My husband was a graduate assistant coach on the men’s team. He said ‘can you keep a shot chart?’ and scouted the team. [Laughs] That was our first date.
5. What was your strength as a player?
I was a shooting guard. My husband says I would shoot any chance I got. But I was up on the assists leaderboard, as well. He forgets that part.
6. Are you going to be a ringer on a YMCA league team?
No, I have retired from playing basketball. I was on a Y league team in Iowa, but I hadn’t realized I couldn’t play as well as I used to.
7. What have you learned about Mexico?
I think it’s the spirit of the people. We’ve been holding town hall meetings and I’ve been amazed at the number of people who have come out. I’ve seen care and compassion and support for what we’re doing.
8. Very few groups focus on expanding rural care.
One of the reasons Noble Health bought two hospitals in two communities 26 miles apart is so the communities could share in the expense of a specialist. No one community can bear that cost. The model is a cluster of hospitals – a new model. We’re going to know everybody’s names and take care of people.
9. Like an old fashioned country doctor?
It’s hard to do that when we’re required to have electronic records [laughs]. But we hope the system we picked will not be so complex. It should feel like a more intimate experience with your provider.
10. Healthcare changes quickly.
It does. We want to make sure we stay on top of the newest methods of treatment.
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