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Young Executive Has Earned Trust of Hospital Leaders

Justin Kendrick has dreams of being a hospital CEO and he’s closer than most his age to reaching that goal. At age 29, the Palmdale Regional Medical Center associate administrator already works on a hospital executive team and has helped coordinate two hospital relocations. In his role at Palmdale Regional Medical Center – formerly Lancaster Community Hospital – Kendrick oversees several departments at the facility and reports directly to the hospital’s CEO, Bob Trautman. Other responsibilities include being involved in physician recruitment and leading a patient satisfaction committee. However, Kendrick’s largest role since he started in February 2009 has been to help plan and organize the hospital’s recent move to the much larger Palmdale facility. Kendrick worked closely with Karen Faulis, the hospital’s chief operating officer, to organize things such as training staff, planning the physical move of patients and equipment, and preparing for licensing visits at the new location. Officer-in-training Kendrick’s associate administrator position is part of a training program put on by Palmdale Regional’s parent health care system, Universal Health Services. The goal of the program is to train its participants to work at an executive level and then eventually place them in chief operating officer positions at hospitals within the health care system. Kendrick doesn’t know when he’ll move up to the next level, but believes it could be in the very near future. “My immediate short-term career goal is to obtain a chief operating officer position within one of our UHS facilities and learn everything I can from that experience,” he said. “Hopefully that prepares me to take the next step (to CEO) in a few years.” Faulis said she also believes it won’t be long before Kendrick is called to a higher role. “I think he’ll get into a chief operating officer position very soon,” she said. “He’s done really well. He’s personable and outgoing and well-respected… He’s very confident in his role and asks a lot of questions.” This is not Kendrick’s first time working in a hospital leadership role. In 2006, he was hired as a project manager of administration at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital near Houston and was promoted to director of operations within a year. That was where Kendrick oversaw his first replacement hospital project. He decided to leave the hospital in Texas for the one in Lancaster because he saw the potential for growth within its health care system and also wanted to try working for a for-profit hospital. Kendrick has a master’s degree in health care administration from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southern Nazarene University just west of Oklahoma City. Earning leadership Kendrick calls the move of the Palmdale facility the most gratifying professional experience he’s ever had. He learned key lessons, such as the importance of paying attention to the details, remaining flexible and keeping your team on the same page. Kendrick acknowledges that he is younger than most people doing jobs like his, but the key to success lies in leadership style. “I think leadership is difficult in the sense that it’s never given,” he said. “Everything has to be earned by trust and respect and that probably takes a little bit longer for someone young to obtain from really an older generation. … In order to help people to excel, we’ve really got to find out what motivates them to get up in the morning and just finding out how to allow people to excel at their jobs by utilizing their strengths.” Jim Brown, CEO of Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital, said it is that mindset that leads him to believe Kendrick could be a hospital CEO within the next five years. “Justin relates very well to people,” Brown said. “He’s capable of managing many different personality types. … Secondly, his work product is very good. He is extremely conscientious, detail-oriented and wants to do a good job. I think people are willing to trust him and give him autonomy.” Brown said that along with helping open Memorial Hermann Sugar Land’s replacement hospital, Kendrick also helped organize the hospital’s neuroscience services. Kendrick’s advice to other young professionals trying to make their way up, whether in or out of the health care field, is to start building and managing their professional reputations early and to be mindful of whom they are working for. “I think it’s very important as to who we align ourselves with and who we look to for guidance,” Kendrick said. “I’ve chosen carefully who I worked for just because I want to get all that I can possibly get out of an experience.”

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