HCA Midwest Health, Kansas City’s leading healthcare provider, announces two local healthcare executives have been tapped to join the 50-member HCA Executive Development Program Class of 2017. Heather Palmer, Assistant Chief Nursing Officer at Centerpoint Medical Center, and Patrick Avila, Vice President Operations and Ethics and Compliance Officer at Research Medical Center, were identified after rigorous interviews for their leadership skills, drive to succeed and passion for healthcare and the excellence in patient care experience. HCA (Hospital Corporation of America), based in Nashville, Tenn., is known for its commitment to unparalleled development of leaders; the organization’s well-regarded Executive Development Program includes operational and financial experience, classroom learning, close-up mentoring, and networking opportunities, partnering participants with successful healthcare leaders.

“It is an honor to have two HCA Midwest Health rising star leaders dedicated to healthcare and its future selected for the Executive Development Program,” says M.L. Lagarde III, President, HCA Midwest Health.  “What differentiates this program is that it is not only taught by people who live and breathe healthcare, it also helps influence and inspire up-and-coming leaders in our industry to create new ways to deliver healthcare to our patients.” 

Heather Palmer, Assistant Chief Nursing Officer, Centerpoint Medical Center

Palmer earned a bachelors degree in business administration and attended law school and worked in the Camarillo, California area—her hometown—in banking and accounting. When she and her husband relocated to his hometown of Odessa, Missouri in 2003, she decided to pursue a job in healthcare and completed a CNA course, which eventually led her to the former Independence Regional Health Center.

“I met a nursing recruiter and we had a personal conversation about what I envisioned for my healthcare career,” Palmer says.  “I was hired as a CNA on the oncology unit and attended William Jewell College’s accelerated nursing program.”

Palmer, who had three small children and a fulltime job, graduated from nursing school the same week the new Centerpoint Medical Center opened in 2007; nine months later she was asked to apply for a vacant clinical manager position at the hospital. In 2010 she was tasked with building a cancer center at Centerpoint Medical Center.

“Bringing a new service line to the community was exciting and challenging and the epitome of the reason I left the business world and went into healthcare—I was helping to directly impact people’s lives on a profound level,” Palmer says. “And HCA Midwest Health has extraordinary leaders in Kansas City—people I learn from every day, people who are role models to help me do my absolute best work.”

“Heather’s dedicated efforts at Centerpoint Medical Center, especially in the areas of elevating the patient experience and increasing staff engagement, illustrate her caring as a healthcare professional,” says David Williams, Chief Executive Officer, Centerpoint Medical Center.  “These invaluable assets ensure the future of compassionate, high-quality healthcare. We're proud of Heather's achievements to date and her acceptance into the Executive Development Program.  It is well-deserved and we look forward to her contributions going forward." 

Patrick Avila, Executive Vice President Operations, Research Medical Center

Avila completed undergraduate studies at Kansas State University, graduated from the University of Kansas with a master’s degree in physical therapy and earned an MBA at University of Missouri-Kansas City; he spent the first five years of his healthcare career as a clinician. Since that time, he has held various leadership roles.  Avila joined HCA Midwest Health in 2012, serving as Associate Administrator and Ethics and Compliance Officer at Lee’s Summit Medical Center.  In 2015, he moved to Research Medical Center where he has served as Vice President Operations and Ethics and Compliance Officer.  From an early age Avila had a deeply ingrained passion for providing healthcare to individuals.

“I was drawn to physical therapy because of the ability work one on one with patients and help them along the path of healing and recovery of functional abilities,” Avila says. “As I assumed more leadership responsibility, I quickly realized that I enjoyed working across the many disciplines that impact patient care and saw that the world of healthcare is rapidly evolving. I like being a part of the visioning and strategic planning processes.”

Chief executive officers with passion, vision and unwavering confidence in the ability to provide excellent healthcare for patients and an inspiring culture and workplace for employees have influenced Avila in his career pursuits. 

“Working with these leaders motivated me to incorporate the best of their qualities into my own style of leadership,” he says. “I look forward to the Executive Development Program to help me become even more well-rounded, which is essential in an operations role.”

“Healthcare administration is built on teamwork and collaboration, listening to the end users and the clinicians, to identify what works well and what needs improvement,” says Jackie DeSouza-Van Blaricum, Chief Executive Officer, Research Medical Center. “I have worked side-by-side with Patrick and know his commitment to the overall picture of healthcare and how it impacts the patient. Being selected as part of the Executive Development Program Class of 2017 will help him continue to develop his inherent skills as a remarkable healthcare leader.” 

For more information on HCA Midwest Health and its family of hospitals, physicians and services in the Kansas City region, visit hcamidwest.com.