Interview with Mary P. Leahy, MD

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Mary P. Leahy, MD, CEO of Bon Secours Charity Health System

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

I am a board-certified physician living in the Hudson Valley for more than 30 years. I completed my internal medicine residency at Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center in the Bronx, where I served as chief medical resident from 1985-86. Following that, I did a fellowship in nephrology at New York Medical College’s Westchester Medical Center campus until 1988. I began looking for the right practice to become associated with and formed a primary and specialty practice in 1990. My administrative responsibilities grew and I became involved in the operations of running a practice from hiring and firing to its financial aspects. After that, I joined with several other physicians to launch Rockland Pulmonary & Medical Associates, a multi-specialty group that has experienced continuous growth ever since. In fact, today, it is the largest primary care practice in Rockland County and is part of the Bon Secours Medical Group.During that time, I experienced the changing face of healthcare delivery, focusing on quality and access to healthcare.

In 2012, that led me to the position of Senior Vice President of Physician Operations for Bon Secours Medical Group—comprised of more than 60 practitioners at the time and more than 120today. In that role, I collaborated with senior executives and physician leaders to shape and implement strategic goals—encompassing administration of the physician practices, management of relationships with both employed and independent physicians, and fiscal and operational direction.

In 2013, I was named CEO of Bon Secours Charity Health System, with responsibility for setting the system’s strategic vision and providing leadership for system-wide operations and performance for three acute care hospitals; the Bon Secours Medical Group; a regional home health care agency; two long-term care facilities; an assisted living facility; and an adult home.

In 2014 and 2015, I participated in facilitating the joint venture between Bon Secours Health System and Westchester Medical Center (WMC), which became effective in May, 2015. As a result, Bon Secours Charity Health System is now part of WMCHealth (Westchester Medical Center Health Network), which allows Bon Secours Charity Health System to expand advanced clinical services to people living and working in Rockland and Orange counties. And in 2015, I helped secure a$24.5 million grant from the State of New York’s Capital Restructuring Financing Program to transform the health of the Port Jervis community with an extensive Medical Village project.

What’s your favorite season and why?

Summer is my favorite season because I love the warm days and lots of sunshine.

Favorite destination?

The beach is my favorite destination.

How do you spend most of your time?

Aside from working, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends.

Hobbies?

I like to walk, to read and do word puzzles.

Is this where you thought you would end up?

No, I never saw myself as a hospital administrator. But in my progressive roles, I took on more and more responsibility in my private practice and then in management. I’m now very happy in this role.

What are your biggest weaknesses and how did you overcome it?

I tend to be a shy person although I enjoy interacting with a broad range of people, from our patients and workforce, my fellow physicians, board members and members of the community.

Who has influenced you the most?

My mother taught me the value of commitment, working hard and being true to your word.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my family. Professionally, I am most proud of the work that I’ve done through our relationship with WMCHealth. Becoming part of the joint venture with WMC stands out as one of the biggest accomplishments of my career. Developing an Accountable Care Organization and being able to provide care for patients when they need it and how they need is also a great accomplishment.

What motivates you?

I always try to do the right thing and improve the health and well-being of our community. That is what motivates me.

What keeps you up at night?

I worry about what the future will be like for my children and their children.

How do you successfully stay connected to key influencers who do not work in the same office or geographical area?

I connect with colleagues and members of our community on a daily basis throughout our organization in Rockland, Orange and Westchester counties through email, texting and phone conferences. But I prefer face-to-face communication so my car has a lot of mileage on it!

What professional organizations are you associated with and in what ways? (great place to talk about the benefits of HLNY)

I am proud that Bon Secours Charity Health System is a member of HLNY because if offers healthcare professionals so many valuable educational programs and provides opportunities for networking and career development. I am also a member of the American Hospital Association Regional Policy Board and I serve on the Boards of Catholic Charities of New York, Rockland Business Association and Rockland Economic Development Corporation. I am also associated with the Orange County Partnership, the Rockland Business Women’s Network and numerous Chambers of Commerce in our communities. In 2017, I wasone of 16 winners of the Hudson Valley Magazine Sixth Annual Women in Business Awards and received the Rockland Business Association Pinnacle Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Woman in Business.

Through our careers, we are faced with difficult decisions. Are you frequently asked questions about risk? How do you approach risk-taking?

Risk is inherent in the job. Any risk-taking must be considered in light of how it will impact our employees and the services we provide to our patients and the community. Many decisions that I make are in collaboration with my colleagues at WMCHealth and we determine the risks together.

What is the biggest challenge you think healthcare professionals have to battle in our current healthcare climate?

As we move from volume to value, we must pay close attention to maintaining highest quality patient care while containing the cost of healthcare.

What is your personal philosophy on mentoring?

Mentoring is vital to help the next generation become leaders.

Are you a mentor? If so, what is the recipe for a successful mentor/mentee relationship?

I am a mentor and enjoy helping others grow. The successful recipe includes communications and being honest. It is also important to set expectations in what each of us is getting out of the relationship. I also feel that you can be a mentor by setting an example in the actions you take and how you conduct yourself on a daily basis.

Do you have any book, podcast or blog recommendations?

The Harvard Business Review is an excellent source of knowledge.

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