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The Most Influential Nurses in Healthcare

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Nurses on Modern Healthcare’s List of 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare

8. Marilyn Tavenner
Acting CMS administrator, Baltimore, Md.

 11. Patricia Hemingway Hall
President and CEO, Health Care Service Corp., Chicago, Ill.

16. Sister Carol Keehan
President and CEO, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Washington, D.C.

28. Maureen Bisognano
President and CEO, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Cambridge, Mass.


By Debra Wood, RN, contributor 

September 13, 2012 - Readers of Modern Healthcare again nominated and selected several nurses among the “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare,” the 11th annual ranking of individuals deemed by their peers and an expert panel to be among the most influential folks in the health care industry. This year, U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts topped the list, after casting the deciding vote in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Several others on the list were involved in helping with the law’s passage or implementation, as well.


Sister Carol Keehan, DC, MS, RN, president and CEO, Catholic Health Association of the United States in Washington, D.C., came in at number 16 on the list this year. In recent years, she has worked tirelessly on health reform and passage of the Affordable Care Act, because it would defend human dignity, provide insurance coverage to vulnerable persons and hard-working families, and reflect the values of a fair and compassionate nation.

Most Influential Nurses
Sister Carol Keehan

“As Americans, we have a great opportunity to advance the health care of our nation in a way not seen since 1965, and we must all work to implement the Affordable Care Act well,” Keehan said. “It is not a perfect bill, but I doubt we have ever had a perfect bill. We will need to make some corrections, but the bill can do so much to help so many. And we in leadership have to lead to assure optimum implementation. We can make this bill one that advances the dignity and health of all.”

Keehan began her career as a nurse and served in the 1980s as vice president for nursing at hospitals in Cumberland, Md., and Washington, D.C. She subsequently served in hospital CEO positions and joined the Catholic Health Association in 2005. Keehan also expressed enormous respect for the people who deliver health care, everyone from nurses to the folks who keep the power on.

Most Influential Nurses
Marilyn Tavenner

Marilyn Tavenner, a former nurse and acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in Washington, D.C., will be responsible for implementing many aspects of the ACA. This represents Tavenner’s first year on the influential list, and she came in at number eight. She started in health care as a nurse at Johnson-Willis Hospital in Richmond, Va., in 1981. She rose through the ranks of the HCA organization and spent 25 years with the company before entering government service. She now manages the $820 billion federal agency which ensures health care coverage for 100 million Americans.

Most Influential Nurses
Patricia Hemingway Hall. Photo credit: Michigan State University News

Modern Healthcare accepts nominations from all industry sectors, and this year, the nurses and former nurses represent diverse aspects of the market. Greg Thompson, spokesperson for Health Care Service Corp. (HCSC) in Chicago, said he is not sure the publication was even aware that his boss, Patricia Hemingway Hall, was once a nurse. Hall, ranking at number 11, now leads the fourth largest health insurance company in the country, which serves more than 13 million people in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Hall graduated from the Michigan State University College of Nursing in 1975 and began her health care career as an intensive care nurse. She became HCSC’s CEO in 2008.

Hall is one of six insurance executives in the top 12 slots this year. David Burda, editor of Modern Healthcare, mentions in an editorial that these executives’ companies will likely be most directly affected by Roberts’ influence.

Maureen Bisognano, president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), based  in Cambridge, Mass., ranked 28 on the Modern Healthcare list. Bisognano’s health career began as a staff nurse in 1973 at Quincy City Hospital, where she moved up, eventually, in 1986-1987, to chief operating officer. For 15 years, she served as IHI’s executive vice president and chief operating officer before advancing to the top spot. She advises health care leaders about quality improvement and is an advocate for change. She also serves as an instructor at the Harvard Medical School.

Most Influential Nurses
RoseAnn DeMoro

National Nurses United (NNU) Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro, although not a nurse, was the only person currently representing a nursing organization to make the list this year, as she has for the 11 years the publication has published the rankings. She ranked at number 36 this year.

“We are incredibly proud to see RoseAnn recognized and honored year after year for both her outstanding leadership and accomplishments and the historic achievements by our national nurses’ movement and organization,” said NNU Co-President Jean Ross, RN, in a written statement.



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