Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight

May 2023



By Lois Thomson, South Florida Hospital News, for ACHE of South Florida

Monica Puga began her career more than 21 years ago as an RN at Memorial Healthcare System, but since that time has moved into the role of senior vice president & chief nurse executive. As she pointed out, “There are significant alignments between nursing and other healthcare disciplines; we are all a family of caregivers.”

Puga said that when she stepped into this position in October, she brought with her other areas of healthcare that already reported to her, namely population health and value-based care. She also mentioned a new service line called the care coordination center. She likened it to an air traffic control center for a healthcare system, saying that “it manages patient flow and patient throughput, so we are delivering the right care in the right setting at the right time, safely and efficiently.”

Puga started in 2001 as an interventional radiology nurse, and then moved into various leadership roles. “I was nurse manager of the cardiac cath lab and interventional radiology department at Memorial West. That’s where I received a lot of my training with respect to hospital-based nursing, as well as a strong leadership foundation.”

Further to her experience, Puga said Memorial was looking for an electronic health record system in 2009 and made the decision for Epic software. “While I had no technology background, I embraced technology, and I was recruited to join the IT team. I spent 13 years in IT leading and collaborating with people from across the healthcare system in deploying many of the Epic applications. About seven years in I also started to focus on building the foundation for population health.”

According to Puga, part of Memorial’s mission and vision has always been to care for the community. “My team and I took technology and started to build a heavy value-based care and population health infrastructure, so we could focus on community needs like social determinants to health. We built a data warehouse and analytics infrastructure so we could further understand what our patients and families needed over and above medical care. That was a great passion of mine and our team.” Also, of note, this infrastructure was pivotal in helping Memorial’s Medicare accountable care organization, Broward Guardian ACO, to be the number one high revenue ACO in the country for 2021 performance in quality and cost savings.

A fairly new joiner to the American College of Healthcare Executives, Puga has already come to realize how the organization’s goals mesh with hers. She said those working in healthcare can no longer do things as they were done a couple of years ago. “We have to look at ways to innovate, to put a lot of emphasis on our leaders so that we are helping them to redesign the way we deliver care. We also need heavier reliance on data so that we’re using it for decision-making at the point of care. I can say these are all things ACHE embraces.”

Puga also appreciates that ACHE focuses on helping young leaders develop critical leadership skills. “They support networking that empowers new leaders to engage with other leaders for professional growth and development. This provides rising leaders with opportunities to build their professions. In addition, they have a great focus on mid-level and senior executives to continue to build relationships and share ideas – all for the benefit of advancing healthcare.”

Puga added, “ACHE brings these real-world healthcare challenges to the table, and through their market research and analysis can help us make better decisions for our organizations. I think it’s great that our South Florida chapter brings the right topics and people together so we can address our greatest healthcare challenges, all with the goal of transforming care.”

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