ACHE16: Despite industry challenges, leaders can make a difference

CHICAGO -- The American healthcare system may be far from perfect and there will always be ways to improve, but Edward H. Lamb, the new chair of the American College of Healthcare Executives, urged the 4,000 attendees at this year's Congress not to lose confidence in their leadership abilities.

"It seems like lately we are told healthcare in our country isn't what it should be. We aren't making the advances we should make, services cost too much …You've heard it, I've heard it … Please don't buy in to all that negativity," Lamb (right) said during Monday's opening session of the group's 59th annual meeting in Chicago this week.

The theme of this year's Congress is "leading well." Lamb, division president of IASIS Healthcare in South Jordan, Utah, drove the message home by encouraging healthcare executives to stay positive about the difference they make in their communities.

"We hear how the healthcare system is losing ground," he said. "We see and hear negative noise. But don't lose confidence. Don't lose track of the great and terrific things happening in your healthcare system today."

Despite the challenges that healthcare executives face, Lamb said that leadership is crucial. "You are leaders of the greatest system in the world. It is up to each of us to learn to work so that our leadership will make a difference, a difference that can change lives, save lives."

During the opening session, Linda J. Knodel (left), senior vice president and chief nursing officer of Mercy, St. Louis, received the Gold Medal Award, ACHE's highest honor, which recognizes ACHE fellows who best exemplify leadership at the organizational, local, state and national levels. Knodel has more than 30 years experience in nursing and healthcare leadership and is the author of the book, "Nurse to Nurse: Nursing Management."

Leadership requires commitment but, she said: "We lead because we've been called to do it. May we inspire others through example to advance healthcare excellence."