Liz Youngblood appreciates balance in her life, both on the job and at home.
She's applying that philosophy to her new position as chief executive officer of the three adult hospitals and the metro-area adult outpatient clinics of the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
“I'm definitely in learning mode,” said Youngblood, who began work Sept. 19. She knows, however, the areas where she will focus: patient quality and safety, employee and patient engagement, and business and service development.
“It's a balance,” she said of those priorities. “All work hand in hand in supporting our overall mission of improving the health of those we serve through high-quality health care, research and education.”
A veteran senior-level health-care executive, Youngblood previously worked in multiple system and hospital roles since 2004 at Baylor Scott and White Health in Dallas, formerly Baylor Health Care System.
For the past three years, she served as vice president of operations and administration for Baylor University Medical Center. There, she had operational and budgetary responsibility for core departments and services at the 1,079-bed not-for-profit teaching hospital and Level 1 trauma center and served as vice president of the digestive disease and neuroscience service lines for the North Texas Division of Baylor Scott and White Health. In that role, she created operational improvement cost savings of more than $17 million while adding services and programs to expand key service lines.
From 2010-14, she was president of Baylor Specialty Health Centers, which included a 68-bed, long-term acute-care hospital and a 58-bed, acute-care pediatric specialty hospital with 12 outpatient clinics, in addition to serving as the North Texas Division vice president of patient care support services.
A registered nurse, she received her diploma of nursing from Ona M. Wilcox School of Nursing in Middletown, Conn., and a bachelor's degree in general studies from West Texas A&M University.
“I started my career in direct patient care,” Youngblood said. “I really enjoyed that, and it gave me the foundation for what I do now. I bring a clinician's perspective, and you need different perspectives around the table.”
She is a graduate of the Executive MBA Program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. “That's a good foundation for the business side of this job as well,” Youngblood said.
What brought her to the Medical Center, Youngblood said, is the chance to make a difference. That includes supporting the work of Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Henderson as he shepherds the organization's quality care and performance improvement. “I definitely feel the work that Dr. Henderson is doing in quality and safety is critical,” she said.
Youngblood said when she interviewed with Kevin Cook, health system chief executive officer, and Dr. Charles O'Mara, associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs, “everyone had the same goals and vision: to improve the lives of the people we serve across the state of Mississippi through health care, education and research.
“I believe that for any organization to achieve its goals, everyone must be working in the same direction, with a complete alignment of goals and priorities,” she said. “We must have a clear vision and clear strategy, and be working together to accomplish the goals we've established for ourselves, keeping in mind the mission of the organization.”
Youngblood's “nursing background, rich administrative leadership experience, and strong record of achievement in a large, respected health system have prepared her well for her role here to address challenges of our rapidly changing health-care environment,” O'Mara said.
“She is personable, quick to smile, driven to achieve, and easy to work with, traits that convey confidence and credibility and make it clear that she loves what she does in health care.”
“We are thrilled to welcome Liz to Health System Administration,” Cook said. “Her talent and experience will be a great addition to our team. Her track record of operational success will help UMMC continue its journey toward becoming a nationally recognized academic medical center.”
A native of Tampa, Youngblood takes moving to a new job in stride. As a child, her father's job took her to Florida, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, California and Connecticut.
She and her husband Troy live in the Flora countryside with their German Shepherd Maggie, who delights in barking at the deer who creep onto their land. “We didn't realize how much of a city dog we had,” Youngblood laughed.
“I didn't know a lot about this area and didn't realize what a great place this is to live, and how wonderful the people are,” said Youngblood. “I don't think people realize how great of a place this really is.”
The Medical Center, she said, is where she wants to be as a way to be part of the solution for Mississippi's health-care challenges.
“I believe in balance,” she said. “You can't work on everything at once, but what's most important is that we are all working on the same things together.”