From Dignity Health’s Lloyd Dean to Sutter Health’s Sarah Krevans, these are six of San Francisco’s most powerful healthcare bosses—and they truly give a damn
By Nicole Stock
The Dignity Health President and CEO has worked in the healthcare industry for more than 25 years, 17 of which he’s served as leader of California’s largest nonprofit hospital provider, the former Catholic Healthcare West. In his role at Dignity Health, he oversees hospitals and facilities across California, Nevada and Arizona, “Healthcare brings people together for a shared purpose to help patients, our communities, and the healing ministry that we serve,” Dean says. His passion to make a difference in patients’ lives has fueled his professional success. “I didn’t grow up with the same advantages that some of my friends had. When it came time for me to leave my parents’ home to go to college, my mother gave me $50 and told me to always have faith in myself. This was the best advice I ever could have received because she always saw the good in everyone. In retrospect, she gave me the most valuable gifts one could ever receive—faith and confidence in myself, and in humanity.”
The chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente has made a splash at the Oakland-based healthcare operation and beyond. He assumed Kaiser’s reins in 2013, and has worked there in various roles for more than 30 years. Under Tyson, Kaiser has developed and delivered its “Thrive” messaging, helping to bring modern medical care to people across eight states and Washington, DC. He believes his organization’s combination of prevention, innovation and integration can serve as a model for how healthcare should look throughout America. Tyson’s dedication to bringing affordable and accessible healthcare to Kaiser members has not gone unnoticed: His efforts landed him a coveted spot on Time’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world; in 2016, he got the No. 2 spot on Modern Healthcare’s roster of the field’s most influential leaders. Speaking to the publicizing this year of Kaiser’s greater focus on mental health awareness, he said: “We need to talk more about the stigma [associated with mental illness] and move the paradigm from people thinking of it in less-than-desirable ways, as we have done historically as a country, as a world, to seeing it as common and as predictable as heart disease and cancer.”
“Be hard on issues, and soft on people,” says Garcia, the Director of Health for the City and County of San Francisco, imparting valuable advice that’s followed her to the top of a department comprising a pair of hospitals—SF General and Laguna Honda—and a number of clinics and programs. “I work in healthcare because I’ve always been committed to social services,” she says. “My start was working for farmworkers in Watsonville, California. Many community members and I developed a free clinic together because there was no access for farmworker families. From this experience, I began working with primary care clinics and directed several of them before coming to the San Francisco Department of Public Health in 1996.” When she’s not working, Garcia likes to train in power lifting at the city’s World Gym with the well-known trainer Ricky LaRocca, who helps her work on building strength.
Early in his career, the President and CEO of UCSF Health was given a pearl of wisdom which would influence him for years to come. “When I was a young hospital administrator, a mentor told me I would face many situations where it wouldn’t be clear what to do. His advice: Always put the interests of patients first. I live by that and share this with all new UCSF Health employees,” says Laret, regarded nationally as a leading figure in healthcare reform and hospital management. Laret has guided the medical system, which includes UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, toward goals ranging from upgrades in quality and safety to lowering costs and improving the patient experience. Additionally, he led efforts to open the $1.5 billion UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, which included new hospitals for women, children and cancer patients, with $600 million in private donations. For Laret, his busy schedule brings high returns. “Healthcare is the most intellectually challenging, emotionally rewarding and personally meaningful industry,” he says.
As head of California Pacific Medical Center, Browner wears many hats. In addition to his CEO role, he’s: a board-certified internist; senior scientist at CPMC Research Institute; Professor of Medicine at Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine; and Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UC San Francisco. Coincidentally, UCSF is where Browner obtained his medical degree after graduating from Harvard. The best advice he’s ever received: “Strive to be fair, firm, frank and friendly.” And that aligns with the reason he cites as why he works in healthcare. “It provides the opportunity to help people in times of profound need and deep joy, and occasionally both,” says Browner, who’s overseeing the construction of two new hospitals slated to open in San Francisco circa 2019. The two locations—at Valencia and Cesar Chavez streets in the Mission, and Van Ness and Geary—will be upgraded to meet tougher requirements for earthquake safety. In his spare time, Browner likes to garden, cook and do crosswords and math puzzles, not to mention spend QT with friends and family.
“Among the people who had the greatest influence in my career choice is someone I have never met,” says the Sutter Health President and CEO. “My grandmother was a doctor in Russia but had to take on a full-time job in a laundry when she immigrated to the United States because her medical degree wasn’t recognized here at that time in our nation’s history. She then focused all her energy and effort into doing everything she could to support my father in his journey to becoming a physician. I’m inspired by how hard she worked to earn a profession in healthcare that many women didn’t have at the time. In some ways, I feel like my career in healthcare honors her legacy, even if my path is different from hers.” Krevans, who joined Sutter Health in 1999 following a tenure at Kaiser Permanente, has been chairwoman of the northeastern California Chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Sierra Forever Families. In 2011, Women Healthcare Executives honored her as Woman of the Year.