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VOL. 131 | NO. 133 | Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Audrey Gregory Returns to Memphis to Lead Saint Francis Hospitals

By Michael Waddell

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For Dr. Audrey Gregory, new market CEO for Saint Francis hospitals, leading and being called to serve has always been in her blood.

Dr. Audrey Gregory, new CEO of the Memphis market for Saint Francis, says health care is changing, so different models of care will be explored and new technology will be part of providing quality care. 

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

“My mom is a teacher and my father is a public servant, and they’ve always been busy people within the church, so serving has always been a part of what I want to do,” Gregory said. “Many of my family members also work in health care in various capacities, so a career in health care was just a good fit for me.”

Gregory and her family recently returned to Memphis after living here from 2011 to 2014. Tenet Healthcare tapped Gregory to rejoin its Memphis market administrative team following the retirement of CEO David Archer.

She is now responsible for overseeing all areas of operations at Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis and Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett. Chris Locke, CEO at Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett, remains in his position.

“I really like the pace in Memphis, and the people I’ve met here are so sweet and polite,” she said.

Gregory was born in Jamaica and showed her penchant for leadership as the head of her student body in high school. She moved to the U.S. to attend college and earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing and master’s degree in health care administration from Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Ga. She went on to complete her Ph.D. in global leadership, concentrating in corporate and organizational management from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

Her subsequent career in health care gave her flexibility throughout her husband Owen’s 15-year career serving in the U.S. Army. She’s a licensed registered nurse with experience that includes four years working in Europe and a stint working as a civilian for the U.S. Army. She joined Tenet Healthcare in 2004 at the Delray Medical Center in Delray Beach, Fla., where she worked in a progressive series of leadership roles, including director of emergency services, assistant chief nursing officer and chief nursing officer.

“It was a wonderful experience and a great opportunity to hone my leadership skills,” she said.

In 2011, she moved to Memphis when she was promoted to chief operating officer at Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis, where she was responsible for all aspects of day-to-day operations including key medical, surgical, quality and ancillary services. Then in 2014 she was promoted to chief executive officer at Placentia-Linda Hospital in Placentia, Calif. Under her leadership, the hospital was honored with two Tenet Circle of Excellence Awards and achieved the highest quality ranking in the company last year based on an internal scorecard used by Tenet.

“Audrey’s experience in strategic growth and fiscal responsibility, and her interpersonal skills are vital to carry out Saint Francis Healthcare’s mission in the community,” said Garry Gause, CEO of Tenet Healthcare’s Southern Region. “She is a proven leader, and we are confident she will lead our hospitals to even greater heights in our commitment to excellent service.”

Now with more than 20 years of experience in the health care industry, Gregory said one of her early priorities is to ensure that the Saint Francis hospitals are delivering a quality product.

“We want to make sure we are providing a great patient experience – quality care with top-of-the-line technology,” Gregory said. “I think the health care marketplace is changing, so our focus will be on integration and different models of care as opposed to putting up new buildings.”

Primary challenges she sees early on include bringing in and holding on to new talent.

“I think recruiting and retaining talent in the Memphis market, particularly clinical talent like registered nurses or clinical lab scientists, is a challenge that impacts our facilities,” said Gregory, who sees competition between the many hospitals in the market as a good thing.

“Our goals are the same, to best serve the patient population,” she said. “Our market has really great leaders who are committed to health care, so they’re the first people I would call if I needed help.”

Her first 90 days as CEO will be focused on making sure her organization has a solid foundation for building into the future.

“As an organization, we’re looking more at technology, like computerized documentation and the number of robotic features in our operation rooms, as our focus,” she said.

Away from work, being a mom is her first priority. She has three children (ages 19, 14 and 9) and enjoys traveling as much as possible with them.

“I think when you see how other people live and when you get perspectives from other people, you end up with a very different view of the world,” she said.

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