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Alum Returns as CEO of GW Hospital
Barry A. Wolfman will draw on his expertise in health services management in his new role.
July 30, 2012
By Kristin Hubing
By his junior year at the University at Buffalo, Barry A. Wolfman already knew he wanted to become a hospital administrator. His very deliberate career was a result of what he calls the meshing of his interests in medicine and business.
“It was crystal clear,” he said. “And I’ve done it ever since.”
To help achieve his goal of becoming a hospital administrator, Mr. Wolfman earned a Master of Health Services Management degree at the George Washington University in 1984. And now he is returning to Foggy Bottom 28 years later as the chief executive officer and managing director of the GW Hospital.
Mr. Wolfman arrived back at GW in April after three decades in health care management that took him from Nashville, Tenn., to South Florida, Philadelphia and California. His executive experience in a variety of settings – the investor-owned National Medical Enterprises (now Tenet Healthcare), the faith-based Providence Health & Services, and the capitation side of medicine at Kaiser Permanente – have given him a diverse perspective on hospital administration.
“I feel really well-rounded in understanding what it takes to be successful,” he said.
Mr. Wolfman believes his background will help him define and pursue excellence in clinical care at the GW Hospital.
“I want to execute on a game plan to cement the hospital’s reputation based on excellent clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction and high-end services that are attendant to being at an academic medical center,” he said.
Working closely with his colleagues at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Medical Faculty Associates will be crucial in developing this plan, Mr. Wolfman said, especially given the competitive landscape.He sees staffing shortages and the need to provide uncompensated care as major challenges the hospital currently faces.
Mr. Wolfman was attracted to GW by the strong reputation of SMHS and Universal Health Services, the hospital management company that operates GW Hospital.
Mr. Wolfman said it feels natural to be back at GW after all these years. He is looking forward to exploring the city with his wife, especially the food scene, which was out of his reach as a graduate student.
In his free time, Mr. Wolfman enjoys traveling – he has made recent trips to Cuba with a fellow hospital administrator and to London where his daughter lives. He is also an avid runner and has competed in two triathlons on the West Coast. He would like to attempt another but is hoping to find one where the water temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit for the swimming segment.
The lessons of his athletic pastimes carry over to Mr. Wolfman’s professional life as well.
“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” he said in regards to reaching his goals for the hospital.
He plans to make a difference, but he wants to be measured in his approach.
“This is a great opportunity, and I’m looking forward to settling and immersing myself in the hospital and spending time with our physicians, the dean and the leadership of the Medical Faculty Associates,” he said.
“We are excited to welcome Barry Wolfman to the George Washington University Hospital. His proven track record of exceeding objectives and creating a culture of excellent physician, employee and community relations establishes him as a strong leader for one of the country’s most prestigious university hospitals,” said Marc D. Miller, president of Universal Health Services.
As the new CEO, Mr. Wolfman intends to create an environment where teamwork and pragmatism can flourish.
“You can’t be a constituency of one and be successful. Whether you’re a physician, a business person, a nurse or whatever, you have to be very pragmatic about things,” said Mr. Wolfman. “If I can build the right culture and collaborate with the medical staff and influence our employees, I think that’s what it’s all about.”