Dr. Robert H. Connors finds his new role as a hospital administrator an opportunity to help more children.

    Rising From the Sand – DeVos Children’s Hospital Undergoes Major Expansion

    Dr. Robert H. ConnorsAfter 15 years as a pediatric surgeon, Dr. Robert H. Connors was appointed president of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, a 14-story, 440,000-square-foot facility projected to cost $190 million.

    Corp!: The groundbreaking for the hospital took place in 2006; how are things progressing?
    Dr. Connors: The project is going really well. We have a lot of sand in west Michigan. The project started out as a sand pit and now rising out of the sand is a building. Our opening date is scheduled for the end of 2010.

    Corp!: What challenges do you face as president of an institution in its developing stage?
    Dr. Connors: I actually find it more fun than challenging. We are a very young hospital and we are experiencing rapid growth, adding new people and new programs.

    Corp!: What are some of the new programs?
    Dr. Connors: We have added our first rheumatologist and a neurosurgeon. Our cardiology program has been expanded. We have added a kidney transplant program and an intensive feeding program. Additionally, we have implemented a pet recreation program designed to help normalize the experience of being hospitalized.

    Corp!: What differentiates a children’s hospital from a traditional hospital?
    Dr. Connors: A children’s hospital is for kids. The people who work here love kids. The best analogy I can give is that kindergarten, elementary, high school and college are all schools, but they are very different.

    Corp!: What unique features will be included in this facility?
    Dr. Connors: We had an extensive planning process that included hearing the needs of families and children. One was room size. Our rooms are really big and are equipped with the latest technologies. The building’s décor will be inspired by nature and will be fanciful and fun.

    Corp!: What is your most recent success story?
    Dr. Connors: The design of the children’s hospital. We have had to adjust and change the design throughout the project to meet the growing needs of the community.

    Corp!: What words best describe you?
    Dr. Connors: Calm and steady. I’m a Midwest-ern guy.

    Corp!: What is the most important lesson you have learned in business?
    Dr. Connors: Surround yourself with good people. Attract good people. Let them grow and develop their talents.

    Corp!: If you had to start all over again, would you choose the same career?
    Dr. Connors: Yes. I was a surgeon for most of my career. I get great satisfaction in being able to help children and families. I am late in coming to administration. It has been a great opportunity to broaden my influence and help more children.

    Corp!: What was your first job and what did you learn from it?
    Dr. Connors: I was a stocker and bagger at a local supermarket in South Dakota. I learned that I had to work pretty hard to get a raise from 60 cents to 75 cents an hour. I learned good work ethics.

    Corp!: What is your favorite way to spend your free time?
    Dr. Connors: I like playing golf, listening to music and reading.