By Vanessa Orr, South Florida Hospital News, for ACHE of South Florida
Though Marie Sandra Severe, Ph.D., MPH, senior vice president and chief executive officer of Jackson North Medical Center, first considered a career in law, her decision to pursue a master’s degree in public health before taking the LSAT changed her mind.
“I didn’t know that I’d fall in love with the field; after earning my MPH, I let go of the law school plan and went directly into healthcare,” said Severe, who had been introduced to the field as a high school student in HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America).
After moving back to Miami from New Orleans where she attended Tulane University, Dr. Severe began working at Miami Children’s Hospital and says she hasn’t looked back since. She joined Jackson Health System eight years ago and is now leading one of the system’s four acute care hospitals toward a number of goals.
“I’ve spoken to community members, volunteers, and office holders in the area, and many tell me that they don’t feel the presence of the hospital in the community,” she said. “I want the hospital to reengage with the community and increase access to services; I want us to become the provider of choice for the areas we serve.”
One challenge facing Dr. Severe is that Jackson North is still dealing with the effects of COVID, including increased hospital admissions and staffing issues.
“A lot of people left the industry during COVID; either for new careers or to travel for more money,” she said. “Although some are coming back, we’re still dealing with the fiscal impact of the past two and half years and figuring out how to sustain operations given these challenges.”
One of the places that Dr. Severe looks for ideas—as well as support and advice—is ACHE of South Florida, which she joined six years ago.
“I decided to join for the educational and resource aspects; networking is not my strong suit,” she said. “Yet support is innate within the organization.
“It is really critical for healthcare executives to be able to exchange ideas, best practices, and issues that they are experiencing together,” she said. “It keeps me engaged as well.”
Dr. Severe, who is a professor at Florida Atlantic University, uses ACHE’s resources in her healthcare operations course. “I wanted the best support materials to help students grasp certain concepts, so I typed ACHE into a search to see what resources they’d recommend,” said Dr. Severe. “Their publishing branch had the perfect textbook. What I like most about this ACHE-approved text is that the information is translatable and practical.”
Dr. Severe also appreciates the access that membership provides. “It’s phenomenal; you’re not only interacting with operations executives; you’re meeting supply chain professionals, performance improvement professionals, healthcare finance experts—there is a plethora of opportunities to garner different perspectives on healthcare,” she said.
She adds, “ACHE also allows members to give back to the field by using their talent, skills, and lessons learned to help early careerists/up-and-coming professionals, and that’s really powerful.”