Melinda Stephenson: Leading the way
- Written by Bruce Olson
Hospital CEO making strides Melinda Stephenson is the dynamic CEO at Kingwood Medical Center. She started out as a registered nurse, earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Texas. She also earned an MBA from the University of Houston. She became the Chief Nursing Officer and then Chief Operating Officer at Clear Lake Regional Hospital and served as Texas City Mainland Medical Centers CEO for four years before coming to Kingwood Medical Center (KMC) in 2009. Today those 24 years of experience are what makes her KMCs leader of everything in both title and reality. I am responsible for everything. The CEO is more of an external job, concentrating on growing the business, developing community relationships, being the face of the hospital to work with the community, Stephenson said. Reporting to her are the Chief Nursing Officer and the Chief Operating Officer who together manage the day-to-day operation while the Chief Financial Officer oversees the financial accounting responsibilities. Doctors practicing at KMC, as at most hospitals, are not employed by the hospital. They are credentialed to practice there. Physicians choose where they want to practice. They are my customers. My job is to make sure we provide a high quality, efficient place to take care of their patients, Stephenson said, and explained that is the reason behind the current hospital expansion. We are under construction for an additional 82 beds and a whole new tower costing about $80 million along with an expanded kitchen. On the west side we are building a new $15.5 million medical office building, Stephenson said. The hospital also has expanded its cardiovascular center and a neurology center with surgeons available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. I am a big fan of the Medical Center downtown and we rely on it when the patient is so sick we need to send him to a place with the needed services. However, time is muscle. It means everything in cardiovascular and stroke events. This high-end care in the Kingwood area is the best gift we can give to the community, she said. Stephenson grew up in Midland, Texas. Her father worked at Chevron Oil and traveled a lot. She saw and learned about much of the world which broadened her perspective. She was the second daughter of three. Following high school, she entered the University of Texas at Austin. I cannot remember as a child what I wanted to be. My older sister was a nurse and thats what started it, she said regarding her reason for choosing nursing. Stephenson is married to Bill Simeone, a vice president at Physicians Network, a subsidiary of MD Anderson Cancer Center. She has one son, Chad, by a previous marriage. He is a graduate of Texas Tech and a banker with Comerica Bank in Houston. She and her husband live in Bellaire with their Lab named Manny. They chose to remain in their existing home when she came to KMC because of the convenience of the location to his job at MD Anderson. I drive against the flow of the traffic and it is easier than it would be for him from up here, said Stephenson. She loves to eat out but has no favorite restaurants. Its all about checking out new places. I could go to a different restaurant every day and not hit them all, she said. Her recreation is working out and biking. She loves to read in the little spare time that she has. Community service is also high on her list. She is the treasurer on the Executive Board of the Lake Houston Chamber of Commerce and is an actively involved board member of the Humble Independent School Districts Education Foundation. The reason she loves what she does is simple. I am a nurse and I will always be a nurse. The great satisfaction I get is when I see something good happening. Even as a competitive CEO there is nothing more important than to have a physician tell me we saved a patient today, she said. Stephenson credits her father as her mentor. He taught all three daughters to always choose a path where you can take care of yourself. He told us to have something you are good at that gives you joy in life, she said. Her immediate focus is to complete the current construction projects at KMC. Her personal goal is to continue to do what she is doing and doing it well.