By Danielle Coston
The New Orleans Tribune
On Monday, July 31, top leaders at New Orleans East Hospital (NOEH) talked about the challenges, opportunities and importance of Black physicians and other Black executives in top hospital leadership jobs as part of a panel discussion featured at the National Medical Association’s annual convention held in New Orleans July 29 through Aug. 2.
Dubbed the “The All-Black C-Suite”, the “Leading While Black Case Study — New Orleans East Hospital, LCMC Health” panel featured Dr. Takeisha C. Davis and Dr. Eric Griggs, who served as moderator, as well as the entire leadership team of New Orleans East Hospital, along with some of NOEH’s past leaders, including Chief Medical Officer Dr. Candace S. Robinson; Chief Nursing Officer/Chief Operating Officer C.J. Marbley; Chief Financial Officer/Chief Administrative Officer Danielle S. Willis; NOEH’s General Counsel, Krystle Ferbos Duplessis; and Dante Green, NOEH’s former COO, who now serves as COO of Kaiser Permanente.
According to a report from a study conducted by the Chartis Group in partnership with the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE), only 10 percent of hospital C-Suite positions are occupied by Black leaders. That number drops to six percent whne only C-Suite positions, such as chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief operations officer, chief medical officer, and chief nursing officer are considered.
The C-suite refers to those top executive level positions, and there are a number of factors that likely contribute to the dearth of Black doctors and and other Black professionals occupying those spaces in U.S. hospitals. For instance, less than six percent of physicians in the United States identify as Black or African-Americans, resulting in a smaller pool of Black candidates for C-Suite positions held by physicians. And, the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling to strike down affirmative action programs across the country will likely adversely impact the pipeline for creating more Black doctors, nurses and other professionals in the health care industry.
Of course, those and other challenges to increasing the number of Black people serving at top levels in hospital administration are exacerbated by this nation’s history of systemic racism in education, healthcare and society in general.
Nonetheless, the C-Suite at New Orleans East Hospital serves as proof that an executive level team comprised largely of African Americans can lead and grow a successful hospital that serves the needs of its community with excellent care and innovation.
In 2021, New Orleans East Hospital was recognized as the recipient of the 2021 “Hospital of the Year (60 beds or fewer)” Nightingale Award from the Louisiana State Nurses Association. That same year, NOEH was honored by the American Heart Association with several awards including the Get With the Guidelines Gold Plus Award for the care of stroke patients.
More recently, NOEH demonstrated its ability to expand and respond to community needs. Recognizing the critical state of maternal health across the state and the country, with Louisiana ranked the highest in maternal mortality in the U.S., NOEH celebrated the opening of its new Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic in May.
“At New Orleans East Hospital, we are positioned to serve communities and provide the right care, right where patients need it. As graduates of Historically Black College and Universities, each of our C-suite leaders is intimately knowledgeable of how place matters to health, “ says Dr. Takeisha Davis, CEO and President of New Orleans East Hospital. “The social factors impacting our community influences how we prioritize health equity in our care for those who live, work, and play in New Orleans East. We hope that sharing our story inspires other hospitals to invest in raising culturally conscious and compassionate leaders, not simply because we’re Black, but mainly that its scientifically proven to save more lives.”