Page 7 - Healthcare News SepOct 2021
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Background — Check
In some ways, Watkins said, coming to CDH is like coming home — or at least coming back to that part of the country where she did her residency.
Specifically, that would be Mass Eye and Ear in Boston. But she did get out to the Northampton area on several occasions during those residency years, so she’s not a total stranger to the 413.
There were several career stops between Boston and CDH, including a lengthy stint back at Mass Eye and Ear, where, from 1999 to 2004, she directed the Emergency Ophthalmology Service and walk-in clinic and was an attending physician in the Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery Service. And Watkins said all of them have helped her grow as both a provider of care and a man- ager of people. And she intends to put all of that experience to work at CDH.
Our story starts in Missouri, where Wat- kins, as noted, became intent on following her father into the medical field and earned her undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Missouri – Kansas City and an internship in internal medicine at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City.
“I grew up wanting to go into medicine, and I was asked quite often if I was going to be an ophthalmologist like my father,” she recalled. “Candidly, I got tired of the ques- tion. It was through a series of rotations and the fact that I needed money for car insurance that my father said, ‘why don’t you come work for me in my office?’
“I did, and I liked it,” she went on. “I didn’t tell him for a while, but I did make that transition, and eventually declared that this was the specialty I wanted to be in.”
This decision brought her to Mass Eye and Ear in 1995 for her residency and stint at the at the walk-in clinic and Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery Service. She was there dur- ing 9/11, a moment in time and her career that convinced her to be closer to family and, in her words, “focus more on family.”
Elaborating, she said she went into private practice in Indiana and eventually became managing partner of a multi-spe- cialty group, one with a large geographic footprint.
The administrative leadership of that group would later put it in “a significant financial disadvantage,” as Watkins put it, adding that she was thrust into the role of interim CEO. She said she would eventu- ally wind down the two parent companies into multiple spinoffs, which are still ongo- ing today, an experience she described as both challenging and rewarding, and one that would in many ways inspire her transi- tion into management and leadership roles.
“We were able to keep patients seen,
keep people employed, and move col- leagues forward so they were able to practice — it was a huge, huge learning experience,” she told HCN. “I joined one of the spinoff groups, but found myself won- dering why I went through that experience.
leading a hospital or healthcare system and pursue healthcare administration?’”
She thought about it and talked with family members, especially her father, to get buy-in and support. After securing it, she started pursuing healthcare administra- tive positions.
Her first stop was at Trinity Health
in South Bend, Ind., and from there she joined Tenet’s Abrazo Community Health Network in Arizona as chief medical officer.
When that position was one of many eliminated in a round of budget cuts, she used connections she’d made to land a job
Please see CHD, page 35
 While there’s been a lot of challenge and a lot of sadness during the pandemic, there’s also
been some wonderful lessons and teachings in the resilience of people.”
 “And it was actually a couple of col- leagues, neither of whom had medical backgrounds but did have healthcare- industry backgrounds, who said, ‘this happened to you for a reason; you have this knowledge — why don’t you consider

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