Newly hired CEO brings burgeoning executives to fill leadership posts
By Gary Pettus
After Kevin Cook, the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s new chief executive officer of adult hospitals, arrived in Jackson, his departure from Toledo, Ohio, wouldn’t leave a huge void in the Buckeye State, exactly.
It would leave four.
Here, the erstwhile CEO of several Toledo-area Mercy hospitals recruited a roster of blue-chip executives from his previous employer.
During the last few months, Cook’s efforts have yielded three key administrators: Trish McDaniel, chief operating officer; Kim Meeker, administrator of the Winfred L. Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants; and Pamela Zipperer-Davis, chief ambulatory affairs officer for UMMC and University Physicians.
“I’m thrilled to have them working here,” Cook said. “All have fit in very well.”
In turn, each said she joined UMMC in great part because Cook asked. Here’s why he did.
Patricia “Trish” McDaniel, chief operating officer
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed her home in Homestead, Fla., as well as a large part of the city she had lived in for more than 20 years.
“Some of the trees and infrastructure never came back,” she said.
The destruction was one reason she decided to leave.
For 25 years, she had worked as a nurse —caring for people had always been important to her and would remain so, particularily in her post-Andrew life.
The year Andrew struck was also the year she earned her master’s in nursing administration. That achievement, along with accepting increasingly larger roles at work, would enable her to take a leadership position in Knoxville, Tenn., where she would be closer to home.
She had been brought up in Nashville, Tenn., by parents with high expectations for their three daughters.
“My father was of the World War II generation,” she said. “He didn’t let any of us off easy, and always pushed career development.”
Eventually, in 2012, McDaniel was recruited again, this time by Kevin Cook in Toledo, where her new role embraced areas beyond clinical operations.
After Cook left Toledo for Jackson, a position opened at UMMC that had McDaniel’s name on it.
“You look around this campus and you think, ‘My gosh; it’s huge.’ But the people within the walls don’t make it feel that way,” she said. “It has a small-town feel.
“The pride that people take in this organization is evident everywhere. It was very welcoming.”
Arriving here in late November, McDaniel said that as COO, “my job is to make sure everybody can do what they need to do – for our patients.”
Pamela Zipperer-Davis, chief ambulatory officer
Her father was a labor leader, her mother a nurse. One was in administration, the other in health care.
“I would help my father campaign for his union’s elective offices,” she said. “After school, I would go to the hospital with my mother. I did scut work, basically: stocking linen, putting boxes on shelves.”
She was 14 when she joined the volunteer hospital work force called Candy Stripers at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, where she grew up.
“I loved that job – and I loved health care,” she said.
Influenced by both of her parents, Zipperer-Davis wasn’t sure which of their careers suited her better. She chose both: “I was always interested in business administration, but to me, health care is a calling.”
After earning her master’s in hospital administration, she has worked in health care since 1987. In 2006, she met Cook, working with him first in Cincinnati at Mercy Health Partners and again in Toledo for two years starting in 2011. When Cook urged her to join him at UMMC, she did so by early December.
“I felt, not just welcomed here, but wanted,” she said. “The spirit here is to do great things for our patients. It’s such a great feeling.”
Kim Meeker, Wiser Hospital administrator
A friend of hers called to see how her new job was going.
“I said, ‘It’s exciting, stressful and overwhelming – just like I like it,’” Meeker said.
This is the first academic medical center she’s worked for and her first time as an administrator of women and infants’ services.
“That’s what enticed me here – along with Kevin and Trish,” she said.
Brought up in Jackson – Michigan, that is – Meeker felt the influence of her stepfather, Dr. Tom Wilson, a small-community physician who let her work in his office during her high school days. Between high school and college, she worked in a nursing home, where she saw “good people doing the best they could,” she said. “But they didn’t have a lot of resources.
“That was a moment when I realized that if I did this kind of work one day, I wouldn’t want to do it that way.”
She started out as a nurse, but decided to move to administration after earning her master’s degree.
“I understood that at any moment a member of my family could be in that small-town hospital, and I wanted to help shape that care. Now, I’ve moved away from my family, but have that same feeling.
“It’s not just about your family; it’s caring for all families.”
At Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, where she worked with Cook, she was vice president of surgical services. Here at UMMC, she also will oversee Wiser’s ancillary operations.
“I want to make sure people have everything they need. I want to eliminate barriers.”