A Day in the Life of a CEO


Thursday, 06 June, 2019



A Day in the Life of a CEO

Barton Private Hospital CEO Jessy McGowan loves her job. Having started her career as a nurse, and with 20 years' combined experience as a CEO, director and manager, she has first-hand knowledge of what it takes to keep the wheels of a hospital running smoothly and morale high. She shares a day in her working life.

Over the past six years, my days at Barton Private Hospital (BPH) in Canberra have generally started around 9 am. Every day is different and I love being challenged on a daily basis. Apart from BPH, I also manage medical offices and a property partnership belonging to the owners of BPH, so my days are always full.

09:30 Before I get to my office I drop by to greet my managers and some of the staff. That lets me know how my day is likely to go and if there are any issues to deal with as a matter of urgency. There are always a few surprises waiting for me.

09:30–10:30 I log on to have a look through any emails and spend some time dealing with any pressing issues.

10:30–11:00 I do a walk through the clinical areas to interact with staff and patients; it’s surprising how much you can get out of being present where all the action is.

11:00–12:00 A quick informal meeting with each of my managers allows us to plan the remainder of the day and address any issues that have arisen. We discuss various aspects of finances, staffing and equipment. I am blessed with a good committed staff and this makes my job much easier than it could otherwise be.

McGowan has an informal catch-up with BPH's finance director.

Back at my desk I check my emails quickly for any urgent correspondence and chase up any missed phone calls.

12:00–12:30 I head down to the tea room at lunchtime. This is where the staff and doctors gather and where I can get a firsthand idea of how things are going.

12:30–13:30 It is during this time that I organise meetings with health funds, external contractors, lawyers, potential surgeons and staff. As with any organisation, there is conflict to resolve and action to be taken to ensure that everyone follows hospital policies and procedures and that the hospital is sustainable in this ever changing business environment.

13:30–14:30 There are over 100 surgeons and anaesthetists operating at BPH. They all have different equipment and consumable needs and I meet regularly with them to ensure their needs are met. This leads to meetings with the representatives of medical supply companies to keep abreast of developments.

A doctor drops by McGowan's office for a chat.

14:30–15:00 I organise and attend meetings that are held by the Hospital Board and Medical Advisory Committee, Credentialing or Ethics Committee to discuss business aspects of the hospital and strategies. This requires me to produce agendas and briefing notes so that the Board and members of different Committees can make informed decisions regarding the future of the hospital. All of the meetings are held after normal business hours, so at least once a fortnight my day does not finish until around 11 pm.

15:00–16:00 I review the budget, cash flow and other financial matters with my financial manager. I approve the pay, approve payment of the accounts, and check debtors and creditors and cash at bank to make sure we are in a financially sound position.

16:00–17:00 I address any complaints or incident reports. Depending on the severity of the complaint, myself or one of my managers will contact the patients directly to discuss any concerns they may have. A quality improvement project is raised to address them immediately. I review any impacted policies and procedures with my managers and I agree on any changes that need to be implemented. It is important that we are able to maintain accreditation. I work with my managers on a daily basis to ensure that the level of care provided is of the highest possible standard, and that we meet accreditation requirements.

McGowan (left) receives a Worksafe ACT certificate of recognition, presented to BPH for its commitment to creating a healthier workplace.

16:30–17:00 Back to walking through the clinical area, interacting with staff and patients to see how the day has gone and how the patients are feeling.

17:00–18:00 Try and get some quiet time to sort through emails and phone calls. The hospital is often operating until 7 or 8 pm so this is not always possible, but I can try.

18:00 until late Interact with the board, the chairman, deal with partnerships issues. I like to keep all staff informed of what’s going on around the hospital, send updates to staff and doctors, reminders, set up meetings. I am normally home by 8 pm.

I love my job. I am constantly on the move dealing with staff, patients, doctors, company representatives, government departments, advertising companies and anyone else that can assist in making the level of care provided by BPH the best it can possibly be.

For relaxation when not at work, I spend time with my husband playing arcade games and computer games at home including French Scrabble, chess, Quiz Planet and Candy Crush online. On the weekend I try to catch up with friends and family. I love the outdoors, so I go skiing in the winter and wakeboarding in the summer. I play tennis comp once a week and enjoy hiking to relax and refresh my mind. I also spend a lot of time gardening.

McGowan (3rd from right) and colleagues celebrate BPH's 10-year anniversary.

Top image: McGowan meets with members of staff to discuss BPH's future renovation. All image credits: ©Barton Private Hospital/Jessy McGowan

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