At the Helm of BJH
Andy hopes to bring a refreshed camaraderie to the relationship between Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. “For the hospital to be unique, it must support research and help to attract the best faculty. Those are the things that set us apart. In the tougher days that lie ahead for health care, we all must be rowing in the same direction. How we partner will affect how we are able to respond to the increasing challenges.”
ANDREW ZISKIND’S PREFERENCE to be called simply “Andy” by everyone with whom he works provides a clue to his personal style and offers information about how he will fulfill his role as the new president of Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
Unreserved and forthright upon introduction, Andy Ziskind, MD, says straight out that he prefers consensus to autocracy and encourages all members of the community to voice their opinions and concerns. In the interest of getting the necessary work done, it may not be possible for him to always keep his East Pavilion office door open for drop-in visitors, but he foresees an administration in which approachability is the rule and established lines of communication are always humming. In fact, he sees no other way in which the hospital can improve. “We’re all in service to the institution, and many people will have ideas about how we can work together better,” he says, “I’m not a hierarchical boss.”
The concept of service is mentioned repeatedly in Andy’s conversation, and it’s clear that it is near the center of his life. “How we provide service to others — not just to patients, but to colleagues, to referring physicians, to members of the staff — is what keeps us in tune and shows the respect that we all deserve. Fundamentally, we all want anyone who has contact of any kind with our system to be treated as we would want a member of our family treated,” he says.
The principles that have guided his career follow the philosophy known as “servant leadership” as put forth by Robert K. Greenleaf, a prominent figure in leadership, education and management circles. Attempting to explain the complex system in as few words as possible and thereby risking misinterpretation, Andy summarizes it as: “accomplishing leadership goals through service to others. The leaders, and every other employee, are all in service to the greater organization.”
Andy also hopes to bring a refreshed camaraderie to the relationship between Barnes-Jewish and Washington University School of Medicine. “For the hospital to be unique, it must support research and help to attract the best faculty. Those are the things that set us apart,” he says. “In the tougher days that lie ahead for health care, we all must be rowing in the same direction. How we partner will affect how we are able to respond to the increasing challenges.”
In his avowed effort to move Barnes-Jewish to the next level of excellence, he has met with and sought input from all of the school’s clinical chiefs as his first contribution to more closely aligning program development at the two institutions. “Better flow of information and better coordination will mean that we both grow in ways that match,” he says. “I’m looking for a participatory process.” One early initiative is in emergency medicine, where Andy believes that the hospital will have to make investments in support of the faculty to take the department to the next level of academic prominence.
Classically trained, he sees an academic side to all clinical delivery. He was educated at Maine’s highly regarded Bowdoin College and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He completed internship and residency training in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, then did clinical and research fellowships in cardiology. Later, he earned an MBA from the Joseph A. Sellinger School of Business and Management, Loyola College of Maryland.
Before coming to Barnes-Jewish, Andy was at the University of Washington’s medical center, where the health system is called UW Medicine. He served both the medical school and the system as vice dean for clinical affairs and associate vice president for clinical programs. That organization, similar in many ways to the one here in St. Louis, includes an eminent medical school, two teaching hospitals, 1,400 faculty members in a faculty practice plan, eight primary care sites, an affiliated children’s hospital and an NIH-designated cancer center.
His experience was in bridging hospital and departmental needs, a management tightrope despite the organization’s more unified governance structure. Pressure to control health care costs also may have been more intense in Seattle, though Andy sees that trend rapidly becoming apparent in St. Louis. He also led clinical programs, developed support for the practice plan, and oversaw new business development, risk management, and contracting and payer relations for the health care system. “The fundamental issues of how to work best together are the same here as they were at UW,” he says. “The goals of the school and the hospital are fundamentally aligned, and we’re here to support the clinical, research and teaching missions.”
Before his six years in Washington, he honed his skills at the University of Maryland, where he ran the cardiac catheterization lab and developed the University of Maryland Cardiac Network, a partnership between academic faculty and 11 community cardiology groups — another example of his abilities as a creator of effective collaborations.
He always has maintained a cardiology practice and plans to continue to see at least a small number of patients. He says, “It keeps me in touch with the challenges of creating an effective health care delivery system — the way to effectively provide service to others — and also fills out that part of who I am.” Andy says he is a “high-service doctor”; for example, he sends every patient a copy of his or her note and provides his cell phone number so that he is readily available to them. He has had prior research interests in percutaneous pericardial intervention and innovative specialty care delivery systems.
An outdoorsman who enjoyed the many mountain and ocean opportunities available around Seattle, including fishing with his children, Andy is frank to admit that he has not yet been won over entirely by the St. Louis weather. But he looks forward to uncovering the recreational opportunities here with his wife, Jody, and his two daughters, ages 14 and 12. The family’s love of skiing and snowboarding may require the use of vacation time, but Andy’s interest in bicycling — last year he rode the Seattle-to-Portland ride of 206 miles in one 88-degree day — should find plenty of outlet in the Midwest.That’s a long bicycle ride, requiring both a commitment to success and the willingness to ignore some pain. Like his open style, collaborative nature and preference for first names, it’s a telling detail: “I like the big jobs,” Andy says.