Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital in Sandy Springs Thursday announced Heather Dexter has been named its new chief executive officer, effective Oct. 23.
She replaces interim CEO and Emory Healthcare President Dane Peterson, who took the lead role in June after CEO Craig McCoy accepted the same position at Bon Secours St. Francis Health System in Greenville, S.C. Dexter has been chief operating officer of Emory St. Joseph’s since 2011.
She began her career at the hospital in 1998 as an administrative resident and steadily progressed in responsibilities and leadership. Prior to her COO role, Dexter served as interim director in both human resources and radiology; division director in clinical services; vice president of planning, development and allied health and vice president of surgical services and planning.
She also served as executive project manager during the joint operating company process between St. Joseph’s Hospital and Emory Healthcare.
Under her leadership the hospital’s growth includes new programs and physicians, development of patient-focused initiatives, continued expansion with the construction of an orthopedic joint and spine center and the completion of several successful accreditation and certification surveys.
“Heather is an inspiring leader whose vision and expertise have greatly contributed to the success of Emory St. Joseph’s,” Peterson said in a news release. “In her new role, Heather’s extensive knowledge of both the health care landscape and Emory St. Joseph’s is a tremendous asset as she continues to serve our patients, their families, our staff and physicians.”
Dexter holds a master’s degrees in business administration and health administration, both from the University of Alabama. Additionally, she completed a health care delivery executive education program at Harvard Business School.
What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago this week I was at Camp Striker in Iraq, reporting on the men and women of Georgia’s 48th Brigade combat team, under the command of a great American and Monroe County native, Brig. Gen. Stewart Rodeheaver. Why I made the decision to go to Iraq is still a bit puzzling. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Obviously, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. As I was to find out, there wasn’t a safe piece of real estate in the whole Saddam Hussein-forsaken place. I had been informed by some of my media friends that the trip would be a waste of my time. The military’s public information people would make sure that where I went and what I saw would be monitored and managed. That was not the case. Rodeheaver assured me I would have the freedom to go where I wished and see what I wanted. He was true to his word. Therefore, on my fourth day in Iraq, I decided to ride with a convoy in an expanse known as the Triangle of Death — so called because of the terrorist activity in the area between the cities of Mahmudiayah, Yusifiyah and Latifiyah — to look for IEDs (improvised explosive devices). Locating IEDs was a deadly cat-and-mouse game — only it was no game. The bad guys would place an IED in a soda can or a paper sack or a hole where a bomb had been previously placed. On occasions, they would put one in an easy-to-discover spot and then secretly videotape the demolition squad as they disarmed the bomb in order to find out how they did it and where each person was located during the process for future reference. Our convoy consisted of four Humvees and a 27-ton armored vehicle called the Buffalo, which probed for suspected IEDs. Before we left that morning, it was suggested I not ride in the lead vehicle, which was most likely to draw fire. Playing combat reporter to the hilt, I insisted I be in the first Humvee. I should have listened to the experts. We left Camp Striker and proceeded onto a pockmarked stretch of asphalt known as Tampa Highway. It was called the Most Dangerous Highway in the World. No argument from me. Twenty minutes later an IED detonated under my side of our Humvee. Sgt. Eric Farmborough, from Statesboro and the tactical coordinator in our vehicle, said later it looked like the equivalent of a couple of 155 mm shells had exploded. I have no idea what that meant but I took his word for it. All I know is that the explosion lifted up the back end of our Humvee under my seat, made a sound I will never forget and scared the willies out of me. Lest I be accused of pulling a Brian Williams, the "NBC Nightly News" anchor who admitted to overstating his experiences in Iraq, I had the presence of mind to get one of the crew to photograph the crater on our return to camp. Today, that photograph hangs in my home as a reminder of how fortunate I am to be here to tell you the story. And, yes, it is still a big hole. To the crew I was with, however, it was just another day at the office. Indeed, before this explosion, the 27 men in their battalion had experienced at least five other similar explosions out of the 25 or so IEDs they had located in the previous four months. Dodging an IED was business as usual for the 48th BCT; an everyday and potentially fatal occurrence. Eight members of the brigade had been killed by IEDs in the two months before I arrived. Other than Rodeheaver, now retired from the military and living in Eatonton, where he is president of Vizitech USA, a high-tech training and education company, I have lost contact with the others I met and wrote about 10 years ago. They came to Iraq as true citizen-soldiers: truck drivers and school teachers, doctors and nurses, prison guards and welders. They hailed from Demorest and Dublin, Rincon and Palmetto, Macon and Montezuma and a lot of places in between. Unsung heroes, one and all. They may not remember me, but I will never forget them. They were and are a special group of Georgians. One footnote: My family met me at the airport on my return from Iraq. I was a bit bedraggled. Going to baggage claim, my then-18-year-old grandson, Brian, put his arm around my shoulder and said quietly, “Pa, don’t ever do that again.” I haven’t. But I am glad I did.
Q: People tell me all the time that I need to watch what I say. I have been told that I speak too freely and am hurting feelings. But I believe in speaking my mind, and I do not hesitate to voice my opinion and thoughts. I’m not going to go around walking on eggshells. I think people need to just deal with it. Last week, I told a coworker that she shouldn’t wear the dress she had on because it was unflattering to her body type. She got huffy with me and doesn’t talk to me now, but I was only trying to help her. I guess I’m writing to you because a longtime, dear friend brought the issue up recently, and I admit it has me wondering what you might make of it. A: Your friend is trying to tell you something, but you are not accustomed to listening. Instead of hearing others, you’re waiting to pounce with your response. As I’ve said before, listening is a form of loving. That’s why it’s essential that you work on becoming less of a blabbermouth. Trust me, you’re the one being robbed, not the folks around you. I could harangue you for being loquacious. But that would be the pot calling the kettle black. I’d rather present real examples of how the things people say can have a profound, lasting effect. I recently held one-on-one consultations for writers. A woman confided that [she] couldn’t be a successful author because her third-grade teacher told her she would never be any good at public speaking. A gentleman I met with was devastated and paralyzed when his neighbor told him, “nobody wants to read what you write; you should just hang it up.” Despite having captured two writing awards and the interest of a literary agent, he let the words of his neighbor sink his progress. Several years ago, I heard a lady recite a long poem she’d crafted. As she went on and on, I had the feeling that the poem was once powerful but had been picked apart — worked over in the worst possible way. Afterward, I asked her about it. She explained that her first draft was done a decade earlier, and the poem had been revised by her critique group ever since. Instead of heeding her muse, she allowed her efforts to be dictated by the opinions of others. By the time I heard it, all the magic had leaked out. The vultures had picked it clean. Consider the dreams and projects that have been stalled or destroyed by words. Imagine the potential impact of utterances such as, “You’re not college material,” “You’re fat” or “You’ll never get anywhere in life.” Those aren’t mere words; they are curses. On the positive side, you can use your mouth to encourage, uplift and spread joy rather than thoughtlessly “speaking your mind” about everything. Stop and assess the other person’s needs in that moment. Once you can get outside of yourself and your ego needs, you can forge deep, beautiful connections with people. Give it a try. But before you can get anywhere, you must first shut the heck up.
Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of The Cracker Queen—A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life and a keynote speaker. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more at www.thecrackerqueen.com.
Backstage jockeying for party leadership positions on Capitol Hill isn’t typically of much interest to folks back home. That is, unless one of those looking to move into one of the most powerful and important slots happens to represent those folks. Which is the case in Washington right now, where District 6 U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Roswell, is vying to be elected to the second-most powerful position in the House, that of majority leader.
Also in the works is an election that will determine a new House Speaker.
That chain of events was set off by the surprise announcement by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that he will resign as of the end of next month.
GOP Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, of California, is the odds-on favorite to move up to speaker. Price chairs one of the most powerful committees on Capitol Hill — the House Budget Committee — and previously was chair of the Republican Policy Committee.
Price is an orthopedic surgeon who served in the Georgia Legislature — and who was the first Republican Senate majority leader there — prior to his election to the U.S. House in 2004. He announced his candidacy for majority leader Sept. 28.
“The hurdles that inevitably lay ahead will require effective and capable leaders,” he wrote in an email to fellow members of the GOP House Caucus. “It will require new thinking and a change from the status quo. And it must advance the cause of a smaller, more limited, more accountable government by allowing everyone’s voice to be included.”
He picked up a pair of important endorsements Sept. 28. One was from House Ways and Means Committee Chair Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
“Tom has a proven record of advancing conservative solutions and principles,” Ryan said. “He has the knowledge and skills needed to be an effective majority leader, and I’m proud to support him.”
The other was from House Financial Services Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, who had been thinking of running for the position himself.
Also running for majority leader along with Price is Rep. Stephen Scalise of Louisiana, current House minority whip. Electing Scalise as leader could pose problems for Republicans. As CNN put it Sept. 29, “A heated race for the majority leader post could once again raise questions about Scalise’s past, notably his speech in 2002 to an anti-Semitic, white supremacist group.”
Hopefully, the GOP caucus will see the wisdom of electing Price as leader instead. After all, he has excelled in medicine, excelled in politics at the state level and now is excelling in politics at the national level. And it certainly would rebound to the benefit of Cobb County and Georgia as a whole to have one of our own so near the pinnacle of power in the House.
The GOP Caucus was slated to meet behind closed doors Sept. 29 to “discuss” its leadership. It’s not inconceivable that they could vote there as well, and that by the time you are reading this that Price is in fact the majority leader.
If that is the case, we say “Congratulations.” And if the actual election is yet to come, we would wish him well in his quest and urge the rest of Georgia’s congressional delegation to support him.
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