How Rich Liekweg runs BJC HealthCare through the prism of respect

As President and CEO of St. Louis-based BJC HealthCare, Rich Liekweg strives to interpret the words and actions of others with respect and focus his attention on how others want. be treated.

Mr. Liekweg became President and CEO of BJC HealthCare in January 2018, and he oversees one of the largest not-for-profit healthcare systems in the country with more than 32,000 employees.

Before taking on the role of CEO, in 2015 he was promoted to Executive Vice President and then President of BJC. He first joined the healthcare system in 2009 as President of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Group President of BJC.

Here Mr. Liekweg responds Becker Hospital Examination‘s seven Corner Office questions.

Question: What is the one thing that really piqued your interest in healthcare?

Rich Liekweg: I was interested in an area that would allow me to pursue my combined passions around business, science and helping others. My grandfather was a general practitioner, my uncle was an obstetrician-gynecologist and my brother was a cardiothoracic surgeon. tidy room. My father was a civil servant and my mother was a teacher, so they taught me the importance of giving back and helping others. And I have always had a personal interest in business. I majored in economics and eventually discovered an opportunity to pool my appreciation of medicine, my curiosity for business and the inherent values ​​my parents instilled in me, by pursuing a job in the field of medicine. health.

Q: What do you like most about St. Louis?

RL: I don’t think the rest of the country really appreciates the gem we have here in St. Louis. Definitely didn’t do this until we moved in here 12 years ago. I love the diversity of the region; it is easy to move from urban areas to suburban areas of the city; the cost of living is very, very affordable. I love the entrepreneurial spirit of St. Louis, which we see in our Cortex neighborhood – a hub of business, innovation and technology located in the heart of the city near our University of Medical campus. Washington; and the new installation of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency; not to mention the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center – St. Louis is a catalyst for progress.

I love that St. Louis is a sporting city – from the Cardinals to the Blues to the new Major League Soccer club, St. Louis CITY-SC.

St. Louis demonstrates its diversity by welcoming refugees from other countries – most recently from Afghanistan, with the help of the St. Louis International Institute. Yes, we struggle with it as much as we embrace it, but that represents the grain of Saint-Louis.

I love that we have the largest urban park in America. My wife calls Forest Park her ocean. It is a spectacular space that brings together the whole community. I love the culture of St. Louis – the Missouri Botanical Gardens and the St. Louis Zoo. I think we have the nation’s # 1 ranked zoo – and I’m from San Diego!

Q: If you could eliminate one of the problems in the healthcare industry overnight, which one would it be?

RL: I would eliminate the inequalities and disparities within the American health care system. We see it here in St. Louis as we see it in every urban center and rural community across the country. There are a lot of things we are doing in St. Louis to address this problem. We are proud to be part of Greater St. Louis, Inc., a new collaboration that brings together business and civic leaders from the region to create jobs, expand inclusive job growth, improve global competitiveness of St. Louis and improve the overall health of the region. We are also part of the St. Louis Anchor Action Network, a newly announced regional partnership designed to eliminate inequalities. This commitment goes beyond the four walls of our hospitals and the clinical care we provide. It means being a partner with other businesses and institutions in the community that provide housing, education opportunities and jobs. As the region’s largest employer, we have a responsibility to create jobs for the most underserved people and use our purchasing and purchasing power to support local minority and diverse communities and start filling the divide that has divided us for so long.

Question: What is your greatest talent or skill outside of the executive office?

RL: Cycling is my passion. Horseback riding allows me to combine my interest in exercise, sports and travel and see parts of the area that I would miss unless I was on my bike. I also enjoy spending time with my family and traveling when we can, which we haven’t had the opportunity to do so much in the past 18 months.

Q: How do you revitalize yourself?

RL: I exercise, often on my bike, whether on the road or while spinning. When I can, I like to read a good fictional book to distract myself, or even watch something uplifting gusto – like Ted Lasso!

Question: What is the tip that you remember most clearly?

RL: One of the best advice I have ever received, and which I still use today, is to always use what I call MRI – “the most respectful interpretation” – words, actions or someone’s comments. It always means trying to interpret things through the most respectful prism first. If someone has done or said something, assume they have good reasons and a serious intention, rather than being critical or suspicious.

Another piece of advice that has served me well in healthcare is to follow the platinum rule: they or they would like to be looked after. Too often in healthcare – and everyday life – we assume that other people would like to be treated the same. we want to be treated – what we traditionally call the golden rule. In fact, it is often best to ask someone what they or they need to feel supported, listen to how they react, and then act with empathy. To be curious. Always ask “please tell me more?” “

Question: What is your biggest achievement at BJC so far?

RL: I look back on the past 18 months and our 31,000 heroes and health care providers – who have weathered this pandemic with so much compassion, selflessness and resilience – and I am proud. This is not my accomplishment, I just feel very privileged to be in a leadership role in the service of these heroes who have found a way, every moment of every day, to be there for each other and for our community. They are tired. They face their own fallout from the past 18 months. Yet they continue to be there on the front lines and because of that we are a healthier community. There is still so much to do, and I am so proud of them and I feel very privileged to be able to support them during an unprecedented period in our lives and, truly, in the history of our country.

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