Setting the Stage

Memorial's Next 70 Years

When Scott Wester arrived at Memorial as President and CEO in July 2022, the top item on his to-do list was listening.

“As I toured our facilities and attended rounding and discovery sessions, I heard pride in the descriptions of patient care that Memorial provides, and commitment from team members who were fully aware of the responsibility and impact expected from their work,” he says. “And everywhere I went, everyone had a great Memorial story.”

Each encounter and learning opportunity pointed to one inescapable fact: Memorial is a valued community leader and essential partner for everyone the organization touches.

“We are a trusted healthcare brand — the 18th most trusted one in the nation, according to Monigle,” Mr. Wester says. “The community has great faith in what we do and the care we provide.”

Now, with his first year as CEO complete, Mr. Wester sees tremendous opportunities ahead.

Moving from Healthcare to Health

Memorial Healthcare System was recognized by the Sheriff’s Foundation of Broward County for its sponsorship of the 6th annual Broward Mental Health Summit. Pictured here, from left: Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony; Tim Curtin, Memorial Executive Director of Community and Youth Services; and summit leader Beth Tache

While all healthcare providers serve patients and families when they are sick, Memorial is centered on moving to a higher level of care, Mr. Wester says.

“Because we are community-focused and community-connected, we seek our needs and gaps of care and fill them,” he says. “In addition to preventive care and acute care, this higher level promotes health and wellness throughout patients’ lives, with Memorial as their trusted base of knowledge.”

Memorial is reaching out beyond traditional care to improve social determinants of health — risk factors that can have an adverse impact on patients’ well-being, such as lack of access to healthy food, easy transportation, safe housing or even their own medical records.

Memorial Primary Care and Memorial’s Community Services are actively addressing these and other issues like mental health, substance abuse and domestic violence, to reduce the negative impact of non-medical causes of illness and chronic conditions.

“Of all the partnerships Memorial has, the most important one is the commitment we give to families for their long-term health and well-being,” Mr. Wester says.

Improving access to care

Memorial is expanding access to care by building healthcare “hubs” of various sizes in key areas of Broward, based on community needs.

“Navigating healthcare in a market like ours is a real challenge,” Mr. Wester says. “Because of that, people can delay the type of care they need and then ultimately end up in the Emergency Department. Healthcare hubs will help prevent that by improving access.”

The hubs — facilities with different combinations of healthcare services — will vary in size and scale, depending upon what providers are nearby. For example, a small health hub could offer primary, specialty and urgent care, all in one location. A medium hub could add outpatient services and a freestanding ED, while a large hub would also include an ambulatory surgical center.

“With hubs, we’ll be pushing clinical care out into the community,” Mr. Wester says. “It’s all about access, access, access.”

Children’s Mobile Health Center

Reaching vulnerable populations

After decades of providing care at its hospitals and facilities, Memorial is bringing care, services and resources via targeted population health initiatives. For example, the One City at a Time program will focus for the next two years on Hfour cities where some of Broward’s most vulnerable residents live. Memorial will send out mobile units once a week to provide vaccines, screenings, physicals, nutritional counseling and more.

With initiatives like One City at a Time, Memorial is bringing key community stakeholders together to identify areas of greatest need, Mr. Wester says. “The program is very metric-driven and will really help us move the needle on population health and well-being,” he says.

(Top left) Memorial Primary Care physicians and practitioners prepare and distribute food and toys for the community; (Bottom left) Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital staff providing supplies to Pine Crest School Community Service & Special Programs; (Right) Four new floors at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital

Continuing to build Memorial’s pediatrics services

After a year that celebrated four new floors at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and the addition of six pediatric specialty services at Memorial Hospital Miramar, Memorial will continue to build its pediatric clinical programs and access locations, Mr. Wester says.

“I think it’s really the acknowledgement that Memorial is the largest provider of pediatric care in South Florida,” he says. “We’re building a depth of clinical care in this area that no one else can replicate.”

Celebrating community support

While Memorial has built several key strategic affiliations with other providers, one of the most critical partnerships is with its own community, which provides generous funding and outside support.

“We honor the contributions of our community leaders and donors who have clearly demonstrated their belief that Memorial is a great partner for their needs and interests,” Mr. Wester says. “We want and need their voices at the table. We’re not egotistical. We respect and value the input of our stakeholders from outside our organization.”

Leadership meeting with CEO K. Scott Wester (at head of table) at Memorial Regional Hospital South

Continuing to lead in a time of change

It’s been an extraordinarily transformational period for both healthcare and Memorial. In recent years, Memorial faced a once-in-a-century pandemic, saw 70 percent of its executive team take new assignments or retire, and lost frontline employees to retirement, burnout or traveling work.

Yet Memorial has stayed at the top of its game — recognized both statewide and nationally not just for its ability to weather COVID-19, but for taking the lead on what healthcare will look like over the system’s next 70 years.

Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Brad Friedman sees Memorial’s people as the ultimate key to that success.

“Memorial’s culture has always allowed us to attract great talent,” he says. “We’ve sustained ourselves through our recent changes and challenges because of the people at the core of the system who care about our mission. Memorial is moving confidently into the future because we’ve shown that we are all capable of accomplishing anything we have to.”

Mr. Wester agreed.

“Memorial’s strengths are due to our leaders and employees who are dedicated to supporting all health relationships, to having a lasting impact on people’s lives and to always leading through ideas and action,” he says.


Cristina, who had a spinal cord injury, with Joanne Delgado-Lebron, MD

Unequaled Service in the Marketplace

Ask any expert what’s going on in healthcare these days, and you’ll hear about disruption. Companies like Amazon, Walmart, CVS Health, Apple and others are entering the market as providers, particularly in primary care. But can they match the Memorial Experience?

Leah A. Carpenter, FACHE, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, doesn’t think so.

“When you come into healthcare for the sole purpose of making money, sooner or later that approach will backfire,” she says. “Memorial, on the other hand, focuses on the quality and safety of care — being a partner to those we serve so they can see their health and well-being improve.”

Our approach — the culture, clinical excellence and reputation for high-quality care — is a major contributor to patients’ and families’ experiences and immediately elevates Memorial into a class by itself, Ms. Carpenter says.

“Every person who works in this organization is a caregiver. We make sure that they are committed to making Memorial a place where people can feel safe, cared for, appreciated, embraced and loved.”

Leah A. Carpenter, FACHE
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

“Memorial’s culture insists on doing the right thing for the patient, all the time, every time,” she says. “The Memorial Experience is the core of what our culture is about.”

It has been long ingrained in the service pillar of Memorial’s Seven Pillars of Excellence, which set the standards for delivering outstanding patient- and family-centered care.

After the COVID-19 pandemic unsettled the workforce — with new employees coming on board, others retiring, still others leaving to take jobs as traveling workers — system leaders decided that an educational initiative on the Memorial Experience would be appropriate. This past year, a multidisciplinary task force was organized to implement it.

“We had to make sure that everybody we brought on who is new to Memorial’s culture understands what the Memorial Experience entails,” Ms. Carpenter says. “We’re getting everybody focused on our post-pandemic commitment to service excellence.”

The initiative aligns with pillars of service, quality and safety, and has three subcommittees that report up to a core team of executives and leaders. The Champions subcommittee is made up of stakeholders who help boost the engagement of clinicians and other caregivers across the system. The Champions create in-person leadership presentations, and the Communications subcommittee is responsible for collateral, branding and sharing the new value principles. The Rewards & Recognition subcommittee reviews ways to celebrate employees who exemplify great caregiving.

The core team recruited the subcommittee members from high-performing and results-driven leaders and employees throughout the organization, with subject matter experts rotating in and out to provide advice as needed.

Improving Patient Flow

Memorial is also deploying a systemwide, post-pandemic patient flow task force to examine every patient touchpoint and help ensure we deliver care quickly, in the right place and at the right time.

The task force examines operations in our emergency rooms, operating rooms, at discharge, in post-acute care, in virtual care and so on.

“We’re working on removing barriers to access and making sure that our flow is efficient so that we can provide an experience of safety, quality and service excellence at the same time that we’re getting patients appropriately placed,” Ms. Carpenter says. “We’re making significant headway on addressing those issues.”

The success of these initiatives rests on the culture in which everyone works, Ms. Carpenter says.

“Every issue we address or strategy we take on is not about our employees’ clinical or technical skills,” she says.

Memorial’s Continued Transformation

One of the important steps Memorial took to guide it into the future and meet healthcare’s ever-changing opportunities was creating the position of Executive Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer.

With the retirement of Nina Beauchesne, the organization tapped Vedner Guerrier to step into the role in April 2023. Mr. Guerrier, MBA, RTT, LSSBB, was Chief Executive Officer of Memorial Hospital West prior.

“We’re in a different landscape now. The consumers with whom we’re engaging have different expectations.”

Vedner Guerrier, MBA, RTT, LSSBB
Executive Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer

He sees the continued improvement of patients’ and families’ Memorial Experience as one of his key responsibilities going forward.

“My focus is about access to care, especially with all the changes we’ve experienced coming out of the pandemic over the last three years,” he says.

Compared to the past, when the only way to obtain care was to go to your doctor’s office, today’s healthcare consumers can schedule virtual appointments and consultations with multiple physicians over a variety of platforms. They can manage their health information on patient portals, seek out pricing information and are savvier about their choices.

The flip side of that for providers is that consumers also expect efficient and effective care delivered when they want and need it — the so-called “Amazon effect.”

“Memorial Physician Group and our family of community physicians must be able to meet consumers in this new paradigm, where access no longer follows the traditional model,” he says. “So we’re examining other fields in which consumers are shopping around for transparency, availability and accessibility.”

Amid all the change, however, Memorial does hold one critical advantage: the respect it enjoys in the community. Mr. Guerrier plans to build on the solid relationships that already exist among executives, physicians, nurses, consumers and other collaborators.

“My focus will be integration of all of our stakeholders, which is the only way we’ve been able to gain the success and sustainability we’re known for,” Mr. Guerrier says. “It’s why Memorial has been the little engine that could: It made sure the right people were at the table.”


Nina Nguyen, MD, consults with a patient

Strategic Partnerships Extending Reach of The Memorial Experience

Healthcare is seeing an increase in the number of strategic partnerships between organizations, both in South Florida and around the country. Partnerships with high-performing providers can help systems like Memorial connect skills and resources and expand the services we each offer.

Memorial has recently developed several key partnerships that help enhance our services and geographic reach — and more are in development. The overall goal: to use those partnerships to advance our move to person-centered health, because the most important partnership we have is with our patients.

“Of all the partnerships we do, No. 1 is the commitment we give to individuals and families to support their long-term health and well-being,” says K. Scott Wester, President and Chief Executive Officer. “The coordination of care that our partnerships can provide is invaluable, and patients and families need an organization like Memorial that they can trust to deliver that.”

The following strategic partnerships enable Memorial to expand our presence and reach, elevate services, help ensure long-term viability and, most important, keep the patient experience a satisfying one:

Moffitt Malignant Hematology and Cellular Therapy

Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and Memorial entered into a clinical partnership in 2017 to offer comprehensive blood and bone marrow transplant services to Broward families seeking this highly specialized type of cancer care closer to home.


Memorial Rehabilitation Institute teamed up with Luna to create Memorial Physical Therapy at Home, making outpatient and at-home physical therapy available to all new and existing patients from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.


Memorial has entered into a partnership with Solis Mammography to expand access to breast imaging and bone density services, making it easier than ever to access mammogram and other services and schedule them online.

Boston Children’s Hospital

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Center for Complex Care allied with Boston Children’s Hospital to provide pediatric complex care coordination, including an expanded network of medical and clinical pediatric services and a collective approach to challenging diagnoses.


In November 2022, Memorial partnered with Healthcare Outcomes Performance Company, called HOPCo for short, a leader in managing musculoskeletal service lines at health systems across the country. HOPCo’s support of Memorial’s orthopedic and spine-care services is enhancing patient access and care coordination via its integrated care, analytics, facilities development and management platforms.

Educational institutions

Through its partnerships with local colleges like Broward College, Florida Atlantic University and Nova Southeastern University, Memorial is developing a new pipeline of clinicians and other caregivers. And through our alliance with Florida Atlantic University, we also are developing leading-edge clinical research to spearhead advances in patient care.

In addition to these, the South Broward Hospital District continues to explore collaborating with the North District to improve healthcare services in the county.

“Our two Boards of Commissioners are spearheading this initiative, and we’re excited about the continued dialogue we’ve had and the progress we’ve been making,” Mr. Wester says. “While we make the most of our existing partnerships and identify new ones, we will always preserve the essence of the Memorial identity that our patients and their families know and trust so well.”

New York Yankees’ Anthony Rizzo with baby Leo and his family, who donated more than $5K to the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation

Memorial also intends to maintain and expand the philanthropic partnerships that the system has enjoyed for decades. Individual and corporate donations, grants, planned giving and major gifts to the nonprofit Memorial Foundation and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation help support programs, services and facilities outside Memorial’s traditional operating budget and create a sense of ownership in the community.

The recent Catch the Love capital campaign, for example, provided more than a third of the $166 million cost to expand Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in 2022 — a strong endorsement from the community of our mission and operations.

“The funding support we receive from people and organizations in South Florida tell an important story,” Mr. Wester says. “Memorial is a great partner for meeting our community’s needs and for people who have a strong interest in bettering everyone’s health and wellness.”

Community Services Receive Generous Support

One of the best examples of local support is the funding we receive for our Community Services initiatives, including:

  • A.D. Henderson Foundation for LEAP after-school program
  • Broward Behavioral Health Coalition for substance abuse and mental health services
  • Broward County Community Partnerships for substance abuse and mental health services
  • Children’s Services Council of Broward County for child- and family-focused programs
  • City of West Park for family counseling services
  • Community Foundation of Broward for Adults Live Life Independently, Educated and Safe, also known as ALLIES
  • Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation for ALLIES and children’s respite
  • United Way of Broward County for LivWell, Memorial Veterans Program and school-based prevention programs


Cardiovascular resident program at Memorial Regional Hospital

Preparing the Workforce of the Future

To help secure the transition from patient-centered care to person-centered health, Memorial must offer opportunities that will help employees deliver its brand of high-quality healthcare — not just now, but decades from now. This calls for workforce development strategies that will train people to deliver care through the year 2050 and beyond.

“Traditionally, healthcare organizations have thought of workforce development as something that happens internally, with learning and training opportunities,” says Margie Vargas, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer. “Now, in addition to learning, it’s the need to understand what the future of working in healthcare is going to look like.”

What does this mean for providers like Memorial? They must help ensure that everyone involved in the delivery of care — and everyone who supports that delivery — can operate at the top of their professions, Ms. Vargas says.

And it must start even before new employees walk through our doors.

“We must partner with academic institutions, nonprofits and other organizations in the community to create pipelines for these critical positions,” Ms. Vargas says. “And once we hire those employees, we have to offer the resources and space they need to evolve their skills and competencies for providing exemplary care.”

This redefinition of workforce development began well before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Vargas says.

“COVID just threw a spotlight on it,” she says. “With people leaving healthcare and retiring, providers everywhere were faced with wider workforce gaps and had to respond. What Memorial is doing that sets it apart from other employers is to think of workforce development as a truly multi-pronged strategy that’s predictive — not reactive — in nature.”

Memorial’s workforce development strategies

  • Increasing and strengthening Memorial’s academic partnerships by creating stronger alliances with traditional medical schools
  • Continuing to grow our Graduate Medical Education program — now at 15 training programs, the 10th largest in Florida — and providing a working environment that physicians want to stay connected to
  • Training our physicians to be advocates and change agents; to develop, maintain and strengthen soft skills like communication and empathy; and to collaborate in a team-based approach that provides comprehensive care to patients
  • Training up-and-coming RNs in our Nurse Residency program and offering experienced nurses the chance to move into specialty practices via our Nurse Fellowship program
  • Collaborating with high schools, middle schools and elementary schools to encourage students to follow paths into healthcare
  • Expanding remote-work opportunities, and keeping those employees connected and engaged
  • Understanding that quality-of-life issues can mean as much to some employees as the traditional motivators of money and career advancement
  • Working with community organizations, government and local businesses to address external factors like the cost of living and housing
  • Keeping Memorial a supportive and inclusive place to have a career, and helping ensure our 16,645 employees accurately represent the community they serve


Memorial Increases Employees' Total Rewards

Memorial continued to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic during fiscal year 2023 but, like other providers, started out the year with challenges. In January, Memorial had 2,247 open positions — compared with pre-pandemic average vacancies of about 800 — and at the same time, patient volume was increasing.

“None of these obstacles were unique to Memorial,” says Margie Vargas, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, “but thanks to our financial strength, we were uniquely positioned to address them.”

“By making investments in our employees, we also invest in their families and in the larger South Florida community we serve.”

Margie Vargas
Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer

Memorial expanded its menu of Total Rewards — enhancing merit adjustments, retention bonuses and tuition reimbursement, to name a few. Premiums on Memorial’s benefit plans held steady, and new rewards were added to support the health and wellness of our current employees and to attract and retain new ones.

“Putting our employees first is the mindset that truly sets Memorial apart,” Ms. Vargas says. “We are driven by that approach and have soundly demonstrated it over the last several years. It’s just one reason that Modern Healthcare recognized us with their Family-Friendliest award for the second time in 2022.”

Memorial made important additions to employee benefits like:

  • Behavioral health support, including a more robust network of providers and additional platforms/channels for employees to receive services, such as text, chat and video
  • A reproductive medicine benefit, including access to a nationwide network, patient care advocate services and coverage for sperm and egg preservation
  • An increase in parental leave pay to four weeks for Family and Medical Leave Act-qualifying employees following the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child, and bereavement leave for a miscarriage
  • A new minimum wage of $16/hour, benefiting nearly 2,000 employees and representing an investment of more than $2 million in our workforce
  • An overall hourly increase for nurses and respiratory therapists, and an hourly increase for nurses moving to a specialty
  • A one-time January 2023 retention bonus of up to $6,000 for qualifying employees
  • Annual merit increases of 5, 4 and 3 percent
  • Allowing non-clinicians to serve as preceptors — high-performing employees, traditionally nurses, who act as teachers and coaches for students — and providing them with preceptor pay

All of which helped Memorial set a record for new hires — a total of 3,758, plus 72 physicians — and see a decrease in overall year-over-year turnover from 21 percent to 14 percent.

Commitment to Our Community

The Foundation of Everything We Do

Hospital systems and healthcare providers have their own cultures, but there’s something about Memorial’s culture that inspires visitors to tell us how much they admire it. It’s based on respect for one another, pride in the work we do, servant leadership, opportunities to learn and grow, and transparency in an open, non-punitive environment.

Above all, our culture rests on our tight bond with our community.

This is a guiding principle that we’ve lived by in times both good and bad. Former CEO Frank V. Sacco often says that Memorial would always do the right thing for all we serve.

Our mission statement says we will “heal the body, mind and spirit of those we touch,” but it doesn’t say, “only while they’re patients at the hospital.”

That’s why Memorial has developed such a broad range of Community Services to extend our reach outside our four walls and serve patients and families beyond the times that they must go to the hospital.

Our Community Services initiatives help people improve their overall, long-term physical and mental health. They work to address patients’ social determinants of health — factors such as access to healthy food, stable housing or reliable transportation, which have a significant impact on up to 80 percent of health outcomes. These services are a natural extension of our commitment to our community.

Here are three programs that exemplify Memorial’s culture of serving patients and families as a trusted, 360-degree partner over the course of their lives.

Care Coordination Team Helps Kids, Families in Crisis

Young people in crisis who end up in emergency rooms often receive lists of mental health professionals and other resources they can contact when they’re sent home.

What if those contacts and appointments are never made? Families with children in mental health distress can find it tough to follow up — with physicians, support programs, even their insurance companies — because they’re in crisis, too. Such tasks can seem overwhelming when they’re feeling overwhelmed themselves.

That’s when our Emergency Department Care Coordination Team steps in to help.

The team, part of our Community Youth Services, helps young people find specialty services for mental health crises — helping to prevent emergency department visits and hospitalizations in the future.

Once the emergency department refers young patients to the program, the team:

  • Helps them make the transition from a Crisis Stabilization Unit to community-based care
  • Connects them to the specific services they require, including services for parents and siblings who are affected by the mental health crisis
  • Works with them long-term to ensure their overall stability and well-being

“We make sure that they leave with a follow-up appointment for therapy or for whatever service they need, and that it will take place within one to two business days,” says Kristhel Vallejo, LMHC, Manager, Community Youth Services. “We help them work with their insurance carriers to get coverage, and if they’re uninsured, we connect them to low-cost or free services. We don’t turn away any referrals, whether the person is insured or not.”

Funded by the Broward Behavioral Health Coalition, the team serves young people ages 5 through 21, with most patients under the age of 18. In addition to Ms. Vallejo, the team includes two master’s-degree-level care coordinators and two peer specialists who handle direct referrals from the Memorial Regional Hospital emergency department and the Behavioral Health Unit at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

Together, each care coordinator and a peer specialist serve approximately 30 clients at a time. In just two years of its existence, the team has already served 575 young people and their families, including parents and siblings.

“Dealing with mental health crisis is difficult, not only for the young person involved, but for the whole family,” Ms. Vallejo says. “A lot of parents don’t know what services are out there for them, so the educational piece of what we do is really important.”

The team makes a lasting and positive impact on quality of life for the patients and families Memorial serves, Ms. Vallejo says.

“Our ability to understand our community’s needs truly makes Memorial unique,” she says. “Our biggest satisfaction is that we’re helping these young people and their families live a better life.”

Memorial Helps Veterans Find Housing

First Lt. Laurie E. Terwilliger, Medical Mobility Officer, 482 Fighter Wing, Homestead Air Reserve Base, found housing through the Memorial Veterans Program

Of the reported 1.35 million military veterans who live in Florida, nearly 2,300 are homeless. Veterans are more likely to become homeless because of lack of support networks for their mental health challenges, which are often exacerbated by social isolation after their discharge from duty. Obtaining permanent housing can be the first step for a veteran to get on a path to health and wellness.

Memorial Veterans Program helps military veterans and families in Broward get rapidly re-housed — or avoid becoming homeless in the first place. Veterans in the program have served in every American conflict since the World War II, and they range in age from their teens and 20s into their 80s and 90s. The program serves a minimum of 525 veterans annually and exceeded that by serving 545 this year.

Homelessness is a huge barrier to veterans obtaining other services, says Marilyn Camerota, Administrative Director, Community Services.

“If we can resolve their housing issues first, then everything flows from that,” she says.

Veterans served by the program might already be homeless or they might be housed, but at risk of eviction.

“Many of these veterans are living with their parents, or in hotels or their cars, or they’re behind in their rent,” says Carolina Pineda, MSW, Manager, Community Services. “We provide wraparound case management services to help resolve their situations and move them toward housing stability.”

United Way of Broward County makes referrals to the program, with veterans qualifying if they’ve served at least one day of active duty, have any discharge status other than dishonorable, are already homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, and if they meet federal income eligibility guidelines.

The program then provides case-management services that include:

  • Meeting with veterans and/or their families to assess their situation and needs
  • Helping them locate new housing or stay in their current housing by linking them to legal aid
  • Paying security deposits and other moving expenses
  • Paying for living expenses like groceries, furniture and electric bills
  • Helping them obtain mental health services and other healthcare for adults and children
  • Providing information on public benefits and other community resources they can turn to for support
  • Connecting them with career counseling and job training opportunities
  • Financial literacy education

The South Florida housing market, one of the most expensive in the country, presents a big challenge. The program works closely with Broward government and community organizations, including the United Way and the Healthy Housing Foundation, to help veteran families navigate the market and locate and apply for newly available affordable housing. The typical veteran family stays in the program for an average of 90 days.

“I’ve seen the amazing difference that Memorial can make in people’s lives,” Ms. Pineda says. “Being able to help families in the Memorial Veterans Program creates such a sense of loyalty to and pride in what we do.”

It also is an excellent example of Memorial caring for people outside its hospitals’ walls, Ms. Camerota says. “Veterans are a big part of our community, and we have to give back to those who served and protected us,” she says.

The program was generously supported by United Way with $512,824 in funds through the Memorial Foundation.

Community Action Treatment Strengthens Families, Saves Lives

When a 15-year-old who had talked of suicide ran away one night in December 2022, her parents knew what to do.

They called Angelica Santiago, Behavioral Health Peer Specialist, Community Youth Services, who had been working with the family for three months through Community Action Treatment.

The program provides support services to young people who struggle with diagnoses of mental health issues and who are at risk of being placed outside their homes for further treatment. By working with the family to address the young person’s challenges — which may or may not include simultaneous substance abuse — Community Action Treatment can help clients avoid repeat hospitalizations and other highly restrictive interventions.

In the case of the 15-year-old, Ms. Santiago was able to contact her by phone and, after persuading her to send a screenshot of her location, quickly saw that the child was near a set of Hollywood train tracks.

“She was saying she wanted to walk on the tracks,” Ms. Santiago says, “but I persuaded her to step away from them.” Ms. Santiago jumped in her car and drove off to meet her.

“When I arrived, the client immediately approached my car,” Ms. Santiago says. “I explained that we were going to take her to the hospital because it was our responsibility to make sure she was safe. She agreed to go there in a police car that was waiting a block or so away.”

Ms. Santiago stayed with the girl at the hospital until she was admitted.

Tragedy was averted that night in large part because of the trust that Memorial and the Community Action Treatment team had built with the family — that trust is a hallmark of the program, says Angela Stanley, LCSW, Clinical Team Leader.

“Services like these are successful because a lot of parents believe in Memorial’s credibility,” she says. “They know that Memorial is taking care of their families. It’s a breath of fresh air to them that we come into their homes to help them and not judge them.”

Clients connect through referrals from a variety of sources, including Memorial’s hospitals, Broward County Public Schools, the juvenile justice department and other Broward mental health programs.

Young people served by Community Action Treatment are between the ages of 11 and 21, and must have a mental health or co-occurring substance abuse diagnosis. They may have had repeated failures with other treatments, endured multiple hospitalizations or demonstrated poor academic performance in the past.

Funded by the Broward Behavioral Health Coalition, Community Action Treatment works to keep clients in a supportive home environment and connect them to age-appropriate services that will help them stay in school, reduce substance abuse and improve their overall health and wellness. Typically, a family will participate in the program for six to nine months, but sometimes their stay is as short as three months.

“When you’re able to provide them with stable services and ongoing peer support, you really see a difference in the turnaround of their behavior,” Ms. Stanley says.

Ms. Santiago reports that the 15-year-old who left the train tracks in December is doing well now, and her family is still benefiting from the program.

“It’s a journey,” she says. “After all, it’s mental health.”


Memorial Innovatory Takes Ideas to Global Markets

Now, a clinician with a great idea — or anyone at Memorial with a proposal for making healthcare better — can propel a back-of-the-napkin dream into the marketplace, thanks to help from Memorial Innovatory.

The newly launched Innovatory offers our creative thinkers crucial support to develop their ideas for new medical devices, therapeutics, diagnostics, health IT and business operations. The Innovatory team can help assess if a market exists for an idea, if its economics make sense and what resources — time, capital, materials and people power — will be required to bring a product to market or a process into implementation.

“What is now commonplace in our hospitals was once innovative, even the most elementary items, like the blood pressure cuffs we use today,” says Matt Muhart, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer. “In the past, Memorial didn’t have the tools to support inventors when they had new ideas for a device or a process. Now we do. Memorial Innovatory can help them find an engineer to design a device, a manufacturer to develop a prototype, investors to back it and patent attorneys to get it licensed.”

Memorial laid the foundations for the Innovatory over the course of the last fiscal year, assembling a team and recasting organizational policies and procedures to be more innovator friendly.

The project officially launched this past summer and offers expertise in entrepreneurship, insights on the state of the market and research on topics like intellectual property protection, patent requirements and regulation. Profits from devices that make it to the manufacturing stage will be split between Memorial and the inventor.

All of this will help attract and retain clinicians and others who are interested in working in an academically oriented environment that supports their creativity, Mr. Muhart says.

“Memorial has highly talented, highly motivated caregivers who come to work every day to solve problems,” he says. “With Memorial Innovatory, they can get the support they need, not just to change the way healthcare is delivered here, but around the world.”


Partnering with Employers for Medical Coverage

Memorial Health Assurance is another innovative way that Memorial is helping improve population health.

In this new program, Memorial is offering small- and medium-size businesses that are interested in becoming self-insured — but deterred by the costs and risks that self-insurance typically entails — comprehensive (and covered) preventive healthcare services.

“Memorial Health Assurance lets businesses with 20 to 5,000 employees offer access to covered preventive care provided by Memorial’s clinically integrated network of more than 2,000 outstanding physicians, including 650 primary care physicians,” says Richard Ashenoff, Executive Director, Memorial Health Network. “Participating in Memorial Health Assurance will allow employers to take a more proactive approach to improving and maintaining their employees’ long-term health.”

Memorial Health Assurance is also more cost-effective. Companies that sign up can choose between paying up front for their expected claims costs and receiving a refund for services not used or paying the costs of their employees’ actual claims.

“Memorial Health Assurance can help participating companies keep their healthcare costs down by delivering the right care at the right time and in the right setting — advantages that, traditionally, only large companies have been able to enjoy,” Mr. Ashenoff says. “It’s another excellent example of Memorial’s commitment to our community — part of the important partnerships that we’re establishing to help improve long-term population health in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.”


Left: Aharon Sareli, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Right: Holly Neville, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer

Restructuring Preserves the Physician’s Crucial Voice

For any healthcare provider to be successful in today’s environment, contributions from physicians are essential, says K. Scott Wester, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer.

“Whether they’re members of a physician group, in a clinically integrated network or on a community medical staff, physicians’ perspectives and engagement levels help define goals and drive performance in safety, quality and the patient experience,” he says.

“At the same time, our physicians will always keep their focus on the fundamentals that never change: safety, quality, humility”

Aharon Sareli, MD
Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

To help ensure continued physician advocacy at Memorial, we’ve implemented a key structural change in March with the appointment of Aharon Sareli, MD, as Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, and Holly Neville, MD, as Associate Chief Medical Officer.

Dr. Sareli and Dr. Neville work with Memorial’s leadership teams on both the system and the facility levels to ensure alignment across the organization and to enhance communication among physicians, in whatever capacity they are serving.

They also have continued seeing patients, to ensure firsthand insight into the delivery of care. Dr. Sareli is maintaining a portion of his established clinical practice, and Dr. Neville is continuing in her roles as Chief of Pediatric General Surgery at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and as Director of Memorial’s GME Surgical Residency program.

“For me, working with Dr. Sareli opens up a world of opportunities for what we can accomplish at Memorial,” Dr. Neville says. “Our two positions — with one of us experienced in adult critical care and the other in pediatrics — span the breadth of Memorial’s clinical operations and, therefore, are very complementary toward one another.”

“For me, working with Dr. Sareli opens up a world of opportunities for what we can accomplish at Memorial.”

Holly Neville, MD
Associate Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Sareli agrees that the restructuring helps maintain the provider’s input at the table as the healthcare system continues to pursue creativity and innovation in caring for patients and families.

“We’re looking toward an exciting future of introducing new technologies, treatments and products to enhance patient care,” he says. “At the same time, our physicians will always keep their focus on the fundamentals that never change: safety, quality, humility and integrity.”