Children’s Colorado’s Senior Vice President and Chief Patient Experience and Access Officer Suzy Jaeger has been chosen as one of the 2021 Outstanding Women in Business by the Denver Business Journal. Jaeger, who has spent 29 of her 35 years in the healthcare profession at Children’s Colorado, was selected for not only her leadership during the transformational last year but throughout many historical milestones for the hospital.
A servant leader who works hard and credits her team
Jaeger has been part of and led a number of high-performing teams responsible for increasing the hospital’s ability to deliver extraordinary care and improving the experience of patients, families and physicians. “Suzy’s leadership style is that of a servant leader and she is quick to deflect credit for successes to her teams, which is one of the qualities that makes her such an effective leader,” said Jena Hausmann, president and CEO of Children’s Colorado. “But behind that humble approach is an incredibly talented and respected leader who is asked to guide some of our most difficult projects.”
For example, Jaeger was asked to help lead the most important and audacious project in the hospital’s 113-year history – the relocation from a cramped downtown facility to Children’s Colorado’s state-of-the-art, 1.4 million square-foot hospital on the Anschutz Medical Campus. Jaeger’s specific role was to reconceptualize and redesign the way outpatient services operate. Her work resulted in improved access to care, reduced wait times, clear and intuitive way-finding systems, increased and improved use of technology, and enhanced care coordination.
Commitment to positive patient experience
More recently, Jaeger’s role was expanded to formally include responsibility for patient/family experience. Among the initiatives she has championed and implemented are Children’s Colorado’s Child Life Services. That includes the addition of the Seacrest Studio that lets patients explore the creative realms of radio and television; a gaming/extended reality program that has been shown to reduce pain and anxiety while increasing socialization; the hospital’s therapy dog program; and an expansion of the arts therapy program. True to her leadership style, Jaeger has partnered closely with families through Children’s Colorado’s Family Advisory councils, affinity groups, and parent mentor program to help guide the hospital’s priorities.
Extraordinary COVID-19 response planning
When it became clear the impact COVID-19 would have on the community, Jaeger, along with SVP and Chief Nursing Executive Pat Givens, RN, PhD and Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer Jerrod Milton, was identified to lead the hospital’s Incident Command effort. The Incident Command opened in March 2020 and ran for nearly a full year. As one of its three leaders, Jaeger had responsibility for reviewing internal and external data to gauge the current and forecasted impact of COVID-19, developing operational and staffing responses, and ensuring the safety of the hospital’s team members and patients.
The success of the Incident Command was extraordinary. For example, Jaeger and her colleagues established a Workforce Planning function that identified displaced or underutilized team members and redeployed them where needed. The result was that Children’s Colorado did not have any furloughs or layoffs at the hospital during the pandemic.
Pairing personal and professional experience to incorporate multiple perspectives
Jaeger counts herself fortunate for having experienced the pandemic through her youngest daughter’s eyes, as she became a new graduate nurse at Children’s Colorado in March of 2020 – right at the start of the pandemic. Additionally, Jaeger’s niece joined the behavioral health team at Children’s Colorado in the fall of 2020, and both still actively work at the hospital today.
“Pairing what I learned through my leadership role with what I observed through the experiences of my family really led to a powerful experience this past year,” said Jaeger. “Today I better understand, respect and can respond to the needs and different perspectives of the families, team members and community providers that we serve. I will carry this experience forward into everything I do in the future.”