St. John Providence CEO Jean Meyer Welcomes All With Open Arms and Heart

    Sometimes, a CEO may brag about his or her open-door policy, but the people listening to this conversation may all think in the back of their minds, “Sure…Likely story.”

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    Corp! Magazine photographer Rosh Sillars finds Jean Meyer has many good sides during the Cover Story photo session.

    Spend an afternoon with Jean Meyer, the new president and CEO of St. John Providence Health System, and it quickly becomes clear that her office is open to anyone who wants to stop by. People dressed in everything from scrubs to suits were popping in, mostly to chat with Meyer and her staff.

    In fact, in between our interview, Meyer was answering questions for St. John’s website. While we tackled the tough issues of the day for our Cover Story – such as healthcare reform, rebranding efforts and industry competition – Meyer was letting her PR staff know her wake-up time (5:30 a.m.) go-to snack and all about her favorite pet. Read her “Take 10” interview here.

    One highlight of that interview – when asked about the best part of her workday, Meyer responded: “I love having the opportunity to round at our hospitals on the units to see the work being done. I also really enjoy reading letters from patients about the care they receive at St. John Providence.”

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    Meyer’s bookshelf on her desk shows off some of the titles she’s reading right now, including “Sacred Work” and “Managing the Unexpected.”

    Meyer was gracious in sharing the stories of how she got started in the medical field, especially her years as an oncology nurse. Here is our favorite quotes from the Cover Story:

    “At the end of my nursing education, I couldn’t decide what kind of nurse to become. I went through my rotations, then I had my oncology rotation,” Meyer said. “I had a great experience with a patient who was a very sick man, and I spent all day with him. He never said a word all day long. And at the end of the day, about 3 p.m., I was leaving and I said, ‘I’ll see you tomorrow.’ And he asked me if I would pray with him.

    “So I sat down, took his hand and we prayed together. Then, the next day I came back and I saw he had passed on. I checked his chart, and I’ll never forget the documentation on his chart said, ‘The patient was found without pulse or respiration at 3:10 p.m.,’ which was just after I had left,” Meyer continued.

    “It bothered me for two reasons. One was I was the last person to see him alive. And I wondered, did I say the right thing? Did I do the right things? The impact that you had on someone like that was amazing,” Meyer said. “And the fact that he was found alone bothered me. I thought what an opportunity for me – what a connection I could make with patients and really make a difference. In oncology patients, you get to know them. You get to know their families. There’s a lot of teaching. So I really found my niche in oncology nursing.”

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    Meyer’s coffee table book is a copy of “Words of Wisdom,” a collection of thoughts about and comments by her colleague, Dr. Patricia Maryland.

    Meyer also talked about how she moved cautiously toward leadership roles – mostly because she loved working directly with patients. Meyer noted how important it is for her to give the staff at St. John Providence the room to advance as well as to excel right where they are.

    We had a great time learning about her work, but we also got to hear about some of her other passions. One of them is her family, including her teen-age daughter. Spending time with her girl, whether it is at home or at one of her hockey games, ranked among her favorite things to do. Meyer was proud to show her daughter that having a job you love is not only possible but it should be a career goal.

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    Meyer’s treadmill desk not only helps her stay in shape, it becomes the office workout space when she’s not on campus.

    We also loved Meyer’s approach to staying healthy while on the job. She tried to work out before work, but that was pretty hard given how early she rises. She tried it after work, but that too was difficult because of the long hours she sometimes keeps. So her solution was a treadmill desk! Meyer laughed at how many pairs of workout shoes have been showing up at that desk when she’s out of the office. Yet she delighted in knowing her staff wanted to stay in shape.

    After all – she reveals in her PR interview that her favorite snack is chips and dip. We’ll admit that we are salty-snack fans as well. (Corp! Magazine has a workout room at its Warren offices for a reason. You know you have to work out after enjoying a snack like that!)

    It all comes back to her open-door policy. Sharing her knowledge, her experience, her consideration for others as well as her treadmill? All in a day’s work for Meyer.