Turnarounds and Transformations:
Being the Change We Want to See — Gabrielle Finley-Hazle

In business — and in life itself — change has been described as “the only constant.” The ability to navigate through the changing currents is an essential skill in reaching our next destination.

How do we navigate effectively? We looked to Gabrielle Finley-Hazle, a health care transformation executive, for answers. She’s led many organizations through successful change initiatives.

You’re known for working toward organizational growth. How do you create and sustain the change that growth brings?

“When I was in middle school, a quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi was discussed in my history class: ‘You must BE the change you wish to see in the world.’ Those words went on to become my life mantra. The message for me was this: instead of complaining or being on the sidelines, be part of the solution, become the change the world needs, and in some instances, lead the change.

“Over time, I’ve followed my calling to be a change agent. I am passionate about helping teams see the positive side of change — and bringing them to the table to co-create a roadmap to our shared destination.

What lessons have you learned in leading system transformations?

“Health care is an industry of perpetual change, and change is hard work. The entire team needs to understand and commit to the effort. Leaders must align everyone around shared strategic goals and continuously communicate progress toward these goals.

“Resistance to change is a given. When I was asked to lead an acute-care hospital on the east coast several years ago that wasn’t doing well financially, resistance was around every corner. Many staff members had been there a long time; some didn’t like the changes. In time, we recruited 130 new physicians and were able to breathe new life into the facility. What others initially thought was impossible became possible and created a new level of hope and inspiration for the employees. Consistent communication with all stakeholders, and patience with the process, were key to the turnaround.

You’ve said that change can be the grounds for growing innovation. Can you offer an example?

“During the pandemic, we launched an Incident Command Center to respond to national guidelines and to address new standard operating procedures required under this state of emergency.

“We were all struggling with supply chain challenges and how best to care for and protect our employees and patients in the midst of critical shortages. One of my thoughts was this: Why don’t we bring in our physicians to help us find solutions? We engaged a team of talented physicians and built them into our Incident Command Center structure.

“Doctors presented the supply chain challenges to our engineers, scientists, and physician residents, who in turn came up with the idea of creating reusable face masks in-house.

“The physicians also came up with the idea of creating and launching reusable isolation gowns, the coverings worn over clothes that protect from infectious agents. One of our surgeons suggested we make the gowns ourselves out of reusable material that delivered even more protection than those provided by local suppliers. The team found a maker of industrial-strength protective fabrics and arranged for a local vendor to convert their emerging fashion designer business, working round the clock to sew up the gowns. Soon we were producing 30,000 gowns a week. In the end, we met the need for personal protective equipment not only for our staff but for health care workers in other parts of the state.

“This is a clear illustration of the power of full engagement, the impact of implementing innovation, and the rewards of being the change you want to see or need to see in this world.”

Thank you, Gabrielle. Your stories are truly inspiring.

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Gabrielle Finley-Hazle is the President and chief executive officer of Dignity Health Arizona Central and West Valley Market, a flagship market of CommonSpirit Health, the largest nonprofit health system in the United States. With 20 years of experience in the health care sector, she has made notable achievements in creating mission-driven, high-performance cultures to consistently hit stretch goals; manage through crises; and develop focused growth strategies with measurable outcomes.

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