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Emanuel’s new CEO puts focus on teamwork, community
Dr Naidu Emanuel CEO
Dr. Murali Naidu took over as Emanuel Medical Center’s new CEO on Nov. 15 (Photo contributed).

Dr. Murali Naidu has only been Emanuel Medi­cal Center’s top adminis­trator for about a month, but he’s already working to improve patient care and tackling the challeng­es of COVID-19.

Naidu joined Emanuel Medical Center on Nov. 15. He has served as CEO of Doctors Hospital of Manteca since early 2020, and will continue to do so as Tenet looks for a per­manent replacement.

The surgeon turned ad­ministrator hit the ground running at the Turlock hospital by implement­ing a new team-based approach to Emergency Room care the week be­fore Thanksgiving.

The Journal talked with Naidu about the challeng­es Emanuel is facing and what he sees happening in the future.

Q. You are stepping into Emanuel’s CEO position right in the middle of a pan­demic, with health orders changing sometimes on a daily basis and on top of a nursing shortage that started before the pandemic. How are you addressing these chal­lenges?

A. I’m really more than anything, just apprecia­tive of the great team here. And, also from my standpoint, having a clini­cal background being in a fairly unique position as a physician CEO, or gener­ally as a clinician CEO, is so important during this time. You’re right, in healthcare we’re facing so many challenges and the pandemic, as it continues to evolve.

Literally, it is some­thing that requires stay­ing on top of and being able to keep up with that science is something that I’ve leaned on heavily as you can imagine in the past couple of years. And then I would also add that I really feel a great deal of empathy for the team, having practiced clini­cally, I understand how it’s tiring and I understand the challenges that it takes to be able to come back when you’re exhausted and you’re emotionally worn out and do the job. And what I really want is for people to first and fore­most, take care of them­selves. So bringing all of that to the role is is just, I think, very helpful in in al­lowing us to be a success­ful team here at Emanuel.

Q. Emanuel started out as this very small town hospi­tal, and then grew as Turlock has grown. But now we’re in between a small town and a city. How do you see Eman­uel serving the community in this in-between phase?

A. The key is that the hospital has, and will continue to grow, to serve the needs of the com­munity as it evolves and as healthcare changes. If you look at what hos­pitals are being asked to do today, whether it’s in a big city or in a smaller town/rural community, the the expectations have gone up dramatically. And that’s been, by the way, dramatically sped up by the pandemic. So, I actually am very pleased with the services that we have here in that they really do focus on and address what needs Turlock has…and also have the relationships to send people to a higher level of care quickly and easily. Whether that’s to one of the larger hospitals north or south of us, or all the way to an academic medical center, like UCSF. That’s really what I believe is the role of Emanuel and any hospital in a setting like ours. And that’s what we’ll continue to deliver. ­

Q. The Central Valley as a whole, and California, has a shortage of all health care workers but especially nurses. Has Emanuel been impacted by the shortage of nurses?

A. We have and you’re right, it’s really every hos­pital.

It’s a real challenge. Like I was saying earlier, there’s just been so much asked for these people every day for the past two years on top of the hard work that they were already doing, and we’ve gotten that piece of it, then we’ve got the shifts in the U.S. workforce that we’re also all reading about that are impacting this…I think it’s really an opportu­nity for us as a healthcare system to step back and say, ‘gosh, how do we make sure that we are focused on these people that give so much in the right ways and the ways that they want so that we can continue to at­tract talented people into healthcare?’

As part of that, I believe we have a real wonder­ful opportunity because the point you made ear­lier about well, now we’ve grown into this town, and it’s not actually a small town anymore, and people who are here have told me, in the few weeks that I have been here, how great Tur­lock is and how much they love to be here…So how do we support the people who live here and want to stay here who want to come and work on our team? That’s the other area of big focus, whether it’s partnerships with the nursing schools or other specialties, whatever it is, that’s something that I really want to make sure we address because we cer­tainly want to be the place that people who want to live in Turlock and work in health care come to.

Q. Knowing that the pan­demic makes it difficult for strategic planning, what do you see happening with Emanuel in the near future?

A. I actually think it’s a fair question because the reality is that the pan­demic is not going to be over in the next month or two. And so whatever the plans are, they have to in­corporate that. And my approach is quite simply, I really want Emanuel to return to its roots of being the place where this com­munity wants to go to get its care because we deliver high quality, excellent care to every patient every time. And for me, that’s what it’s about. It’s about both that high bar for the service we provide and making sure that it’s consistent.

Because whether it’s pandemic related or it’s because somebody, heaven forbid, had a stroke or a heart attack, or whatever it is, we will deliver the care that they need.