A Passion for Patient Care: Deborah G. Friberg, new CSM Hospital Milwaukee president
Columbia St. Mary’s is pleased to introduce Deborah G. Friberg to the new position of executive vice president of Columbia St. Mary’s, Inc., president of Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital in Milwaukee and president of Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Institute. At Columbia St. Mary’s, Deborah will initially be responsible for leading the transition to the new Milwaukee hospital, set to open in the fall of 2010.
“Deb,” as she is known to her friends, family and colleagues, comes to Columbia St. Mary’s from North Carolina’s prestigious WakeMed Health & Hospitals, where she was most recently the executive vice president and chief operating officer. In taking this position, she returns to Milwaukee, where from 1984 to 1995 she was the vice president of professional services and programs at CSM’s Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Hospital. She grew up in West Allis and earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and her Master of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
It wasn’t so much Deb’s interest in returning to Milwaukee that motivated her to pursue and accept this position, although she is thrilled to again be close to her aging mother. It was more the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work on the transition of three hospitals – Columbia Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital and Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Institute – to be under one new spectacular roof. “This is something a health care executive rarely gets to do in their career,” she says. “Plus, to share a vision with and work alongside Leo Brideau and an unmatched team of physicians and administrators, is a phenomenal opportunity. This is really the chance to set a new standard of care and caring in our community.”
Bill Hart, VP Operations East Side Campuses, and Deb Friberg, president of Columbia St. Mary’s east side hospitals, will have a busy year preparing for the consolidation of the east side hospitals.
Consolidating two aging hospitals – the Columbia and Milwaukee campuses, currently located one mile apart – with one state-of-the-art facility will increase efficiencies and eliminate duplication of services. The new Lake Drive Hospital will result in more than $19 million in annual operational savings. “The value proposition that this transition and new hospital provides advances the overall mission of community wellness, both from a health and a financial standpoint,” Friberg says.
She acknowledges, however, that the merger, especially in this complex and evolving health care environment, is not without its challenges. “Everyone will have to manage a significant amount of change, which can be difficult,” she explains. “But, across the board, the patients and their families are our number-one priority.” She cites the rich history of all three organizations, and their many health care “firsts” in the community, among their greatest strengths.
“My approach to health care – which has always been consistent with that of Columbia St. Mary’s – is that hospitals, facilities and technologies are tools that, if used correctly, can heal,” Friberg affirms. “But, we want to create an overall healing and caring experience where, our tools combined with our one-on-one interactions with patients, not only meet their expectations, but exceed them.”
She described herself as someone who is serious about what she does and embraces the great responsibility of getting it right every time for every patient. She’s high energy in everything she does, both professionally and with her volunteer work in the community. For fun, she enjoys a lake home, a mystery novel and relaxing with her husband of 30 years and two miniature dachshunds, Rocky and Marley. Her two grown children are attending college.
“I am anxious to work with the Columbia St. Mary’s Foundation,” she says. “They do such wonderful work with the help of so many dedicated volunteers and donors.”