Saturday, July 13, 2024

Boca Interview: Gerard van Grinsven

Here’s an excerpt from our Q&A with Gerard van Grinsven, CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), which moved its corporate offices from Schaumberg, Ill., to Boca Raton last year.

What is the Mother Standard of Care?

We started 30 years ago when our founder, Richard J. Stephenson, lost his mother to cancer. At that time there were innovative research options that she could benefit from. For whatever reason, because of the bureaucracy that was in place at the time, she never could get those treatments. She subsequently passed away, and [Stephenson] was furious. He vowed to change the face of cancer care.

He bought [what became the first CTCA] hospital in Zion, Ill. And right from the get-go, he created the Mother Standard of Care: Treat every patient as if he or she is your mother. That changes the whole mind-set, because if it really is your mother, you will be much more compassionate, you’ll spend much more time with that individual. When it is a family member, you go beyond the call of duty.

A lot of patients inevitably die from this disease, even with the best care in the world. How do you keep morale up when that happens?

I have set a goal that I want to be a world-class talent-based organization. And a world-class talent-based organization is an organization that invests heavily in the recruitment of its people. It recruits people that have a natural talent to want to deliver compassionate care. When you have those types of people coming to you, then you don’t have to teach them to go beyond the call of duty for the patient, because it’s ingrained in them.

The best way for me to help a stakeholder who is faced with [low morale] is to create an environment for that individual where he or she is treated with trust, respect and dignity, is involved with the decision-making, and is allowed to use his or her talents to the fullest. When you have that, you have a stakeholder who feels valued. And when a stakeholder feels valued, they can overcome some of those emotions. They believe in the vision, so they can deal with the not-so-nice things around cancer. We have extremely low turnover compared to other health-care systems, and I think it’s because of the culture we have created.

What is the relationship between CTCA and the nonprofit hospitals in the communities it serves?

Wherever we can, we want to partner in a meaningful and respectful manner. Now that we have arrived in Florida, we will do exactly the same. You have some great health-care systems here; I was just a patient at Boca Ration Regional [Hospital]. I went to the emergency room.

What for?

I think I was burning the candle at both ends. I was traveling a lot; I thought I had pneumonia. I wanted to make sure my chest was OK. But I got great service. We met with the CEOs, and we’re developing those relationships, because we want them to know that we might have something for patients that [the hospitals] might not be able to offer at this moment. Constantly developing those relationships is crucial.

Are there any plans to bring a CTCA hospital to South Florida?

There are no plans at this moment, but I couldn’t say that in the future we wouldn’t have a hospital here. This is the fastest-growing state in the country. We are attached to Latin America, and cancer has no borders. Ultimately, we will look for those markets where we feel our patients need us.

To read the full story, pick up the September/October issue of Boca Raton magazine.

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