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Honoring women leading all 5 Carle hospitals during Women's History Month

Honoring women leading all 5 Carle hospitals during Women's History Month
While women have been a part of the history of medicine since its infancy and are very present on the frontlines of care, it’s not always common to see female leaders at the top of healthcare organizations. And while that trend has begun to decline, Carle Health understands how bringing diverse perspectives into leadership roles is an asset to offering inclusive care. This March, during National Women’s History Month, Carle celebrates five female leaders at the helm of each of its five system hospitals.
  • Carle BroMenn Medical Center (CBMC) and Carle Eureka Hospital (CEH), led by Colleen Kannaday, FACHE, president.
  • Carle Eureka Hospital (CEH), led by Anna Laible, MBA, administrator.
  • Carle Foundation Hospital (CFH), led by Elizabeth Angelo, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, CPHQ, chief nursing executive and president.
  • Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center (CHRHC), led by Heather Tucker, MSN, RN-BC, NEA-BC, administrator.
  • Carle Richland Memorial Hospital (CRMH), led by Gina Thomas, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE, president.
Each leader brings unique experiences and backgrounds to their roles to advocate for patients and team members and provide strategic direction for their region. While some always envisioned contributing to the healthcare industry, others unexpectedly found themselves loving the challenge and ability to make a difference and never left.
CBMC President, Kannaday, saw the incredible impact working in healthcare offered because of her parents.
“I grew up around Catholic healthcare as my father was in healthcare administration and my mom was a nurse. From a very young age, I was attracted to the servant leadership aspect of healthcare,” Kannaday said. “I’ve always loved the fact that in healthcare, we’re working to make a difference for those we’re privileged to serve and are guided by our mission and values.”
Thomas and Angelo had their first experience in the industry at the very same hospitals they now lead. Having a firsthand understanding of how to manage patient care and collaborate with others in many different roles, helps create systems and processes that improve the experience of team members and quality of care patients receive.
“I joined Carle Richland in 1999 as a Med-Surg Nurse,” Thomas said. “As a nurse, I worked on the Medical-Surgical floor, ICU and as a house administrator,” Thomas said. “When I first joined the hospital, I didn’t have a long-term goal. I focused on being the best nurse I could be. Throughout the years, when I felt I needed more professionally, I turned to education. Throughout my continued education and practicum rotations, I encountered new experiences that led me to where I am today.”
The Carle executive leadership team and recruitment leaders commit to taking the steps necessary to grow the team member base in a way that reflects the communities we serve and brings in diverse backgrounds and expertise. There’s also a strong emphasis on creating development structures to offer opportunities for growth, no matter the area of expertise. It takes shape in clinical leveling programs, professional advancement courses and mentorship opportunities.
And while the vertically integrated system leverages the efficiencies and values of working in a wide network of experts, there’s also an understanding that each community has different health needs, and the connection local teams bring to compassionate, individual care is invaluable.  
“Hands down the best part of my job is working with the teams in the East Region and throughout Carle Health,” Tucker said. “I truly feel that the east region locations are my ‘home’, and this truly is my work family. Vermilion County is important to me. This is where I live. This is where I was raised and where I raise my family. The care we deliver impacts myself, my family and my community. It’s important to share that ‘love’ beyond the job.”
Though it may be unique in the corporate world to have so many women helping steer teams toward creating the best possible health outcomes for patients, women typically make health decisions for loved ones at home. The value of offering that authentic perspective at all levels helps keep the work patient-focused and community-driven.
“As women are the main drivers of healthcare for their families, I think it’s important to have women in leadership roles who help shape the future of how healthcare is delivered and how it’s accessed,” Laible said.
As these five women continue to steer the organization into its next phase, we recognize there are thousands of other women Carle team members and physicians who help set the tone and push the system forward to meet our mission.
“I’ve benefited from the generosity of so many mentors over the years,” Angelo said. “From the nurses who precepted me in patient care to the charge nurses I looked up to and admired, and the leaders who inspired me to step out and try new things.”
And while not part of the professional development plan, the response to supporting Carle through the COVID-19 pandemic offers an opportunity to not only acknowledge the leaders, like these five, who’ve guided us through this time and used it as an opportunity to learn and improve the system overall.
“These past few years have tested us in ways we couldn’t have imagined, and I’ve been truly inspired by the commitment our team members have demonstrated during such difficult times,” Kannaday said. “The teamwork, the collaboration and the unwavering support for one another inspires me in ways that I can’t adequately put into words.”
Carle is grateful for the continued support of all women team members, physicians and leaders across the Carle System, without whom high-quality patient care would not be possible.

Categories: Redefining Healthcare, Community

Tags: administration, BroMenn, Carle, Center, Eureka, Foundation, Health, Healthcare, Hoopeston, hospital, leaders, leadership, Medical, Memorial, Redefining, Regional, Richland