Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association

MHA’s Executive Insights Series: Lawrence General’s Deb Wilson on Advancing a Community Through Care

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Deb Wilson never imagined a career in healthcare when she started her career as a financial consultant, but all that changed when she was handed the Brigham and Women’s audit at Deloitte. In the time since, she has been one of the foremost leaders within the Massachusetts healthcare community. 

Now the President & CEO of Lawrence General Hospital, Deb Wilson joined MHA’s Steve Walsh for the association’s latest Executive Insights episode. She explained how she has found purpose on her unexpected journey through healthcare – especially during the toughest of times.

“When things get tough in healthcare you can at least say that at the end of all this you’re impacting a patient,” said Wilson.

Wilson was named to Lawrence General’s top post in February 2020, just weeks before COVID-19 struck in Massachusetts. In a sense, managing high pressure situations (the hospital was also at the center of the response for the Lawrence gas explosions) made the leadership transition a little easier for Deb Wilson who said, “at the time you have one goal [as an organization] and that is you have to deal with the crisis at hand.”

So, how does the hospital continue its mission of serving the Greater Lawrence community after all the challenges of the past year – in healthcare and beyond?

“We have definitely moved from just focusing on our hospital operations and our ambulatory sites to what the community needs. We do have an accountable care organization with our federally qualified health center that is right next door, and we are the members or the owners of our accountable care organization, so through that vehicle we really focus on population health and the significant issues that our community faces relative to social determinant of health.”

Wilson also shared the importance of having a strong relationship with other healthcare organizations, especially during the last year-plus.

“We collaborate locally where we can, as we are an independent…we are collaborating wherever we can because it’s very hard to do everything by yourself and collaboration really does make a difference,” she explained.

competitive landscape and we have people saying they’re ready to retire now.” 

Wilson ended the Executive Insights session by emphasizing the importance and challenges of community hospitals.

“I think we have convinced ourselves that community hospitals have a role to play in the healthcare delivery system, so I think that all of us have to figure out what will happen outside the hospital walls and how can we deliver care in a more efficient way,” said Wilson. “I believe there’s plenty of opportunities to deliver care in a better way and more efficiently in an ambulatory setting, but I think the challenge will be if hospitals will be able to fund that transformation.”

Watch the full episode here.

Stream all Executive Insights Series episodes here.