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Woman standing over a desk

First Job: Linda Hunt, Service Area President, Catholic Healthcare West Arizona And St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center

Linda Hunt
Service Area President, Catholic Healthcare West Arizona and St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center

Describe your very first job and what lessons you learned from it.
During the day, I was a secretary for a construction company. I answered phones, coordinated job assignments and oversaw payroll. In the evening, I worked at Walgreens stocking shelves and cashiering. I learned making a living without a college degree was very hard work. It was tough holding down two jobs and trying to have a life, especially as a college student. I had a lot of fun, but knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in either position.

Describe your first job in your industry and what you learned from it.
When I finished my nursing training, I took a position as a staff nurse at Ochsner Foundation Hospital in New Orleans. My first assignment was in labor and delivery. I took the 3 to 11 p.m. shift because it paid more money. It was very exciting and frightening to be responsible for the lives of mothers and babies. As a new graduate, I learned a lot about life, experienced situations that brought people great happiness and overwhelming sadness, and I sometimes saw the violent side of humanity. I had a tremendous passion for being a nurse. It was fun working with people, hearing their stories, and witnessing new life come into the world. I would get teary-eyed every time I saw a birth — it’s so miraculous.

What were your salaries at both of these jobs?
I netted $250 a month working as both a construction company secretary and a Walgreens sales clerk. I spent eight months earning enough money to buy a used Buick. My first nursing paycheck netted $534 for two weeks of work.

Who is your biggest mentor and what role did he or she play?
Dr. Jodi Alphin was a great mentor to me. I reported to her when I was director of nursing at St. Luke’s Hospital in Colorado. She mentored me in decision making, relationship building, and the art and science of leadership. Jodi molded my career in a variety of ways and helped me grow into a health care leader.

What advice would you give to a person just entering your industry?
Proposed budget cuts at the state and federal level have made this an extremely difficult time for health care. If you are entering health care today, you will need to be innovative and able to envision a different delivery system for care — a system that incorporates personal accountability, evidence-based medicine and prevention. This is a time in health care when you can make great contributions to mankind.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing instead?
I would be an executive chef and owner of a world-class restaurant in a major metropolitan area. I would have won a prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for my food and wine.


Arizona Business Magazine

March 2010

construction companies

Construction Companies Can Be Exposed To Lawsuits When Assisting The Government During An Emergency

Imagine that you own a construction company and one of your employees comes in and tells you that the two largest buildings in town have collapsed. You receive a phone call a few days later from a government official who informs you that the police and fire department need your construction company to send heavy equipment and demolition crews to the site of the collapsed buildings to help remove large pieces of debris in order to save people’s lives.

Some large construction companies in New York were faced with that exact situation after the Sept. 11 attacks. The construction companies that helped clean up the World Trade Center disaster site were responsible for removing one-and-a-half-million tons of debris that covered many city blocks. Before long, the workers who were removing the debris started getting sick, as did police officers and firefighters who were stationed at the disaster site. Many of them have filed lawsuits against numerous entities, including the construction companies that were called upon to help with the debris removal effort.

The construction companies failed in a recent attempt to dismiss the lawsuits on grounds that they were immune from liability because they responded to an emergency situation.

Any business that decides to help in an emergency must protect itself, or face the legal consequences of the almost inevitable mistakes and accidents that will happen. With careful planning and prudent oversight, you can protect your business from lawsuits related to its help in an emergency or disaster situation in the state of Arizona.
Arizona’s immunity statute

The statute A.R.S. § 26-314(A) provides immunity for the state of Arizona and its political subdivisions (i.e., counties, cities and other local governments) for the actions or inactions of its “emergency workers.” The statute states that “emergency workers” shall have the same immunities as agents of the state of Arizona and its political subdivisions performing similar work. The term “emergency worker” is defined in part as “any person who is … an officer, agent, or employee of this state or a political subdivision of this state and who is called on to perform or support emergency management activities or perform emergency management functions.” Therefore, the only way to be sure your business is immune from lawsuits related to its assistance to the state or city government in a disaster or emergency situation is to wait until the government “calls on” your business to provide help.

Your business must always operate as an “agent” of the government to be considered an “emergency worker” and maintain its immunity. Your business will be considered an agent of the government if the government has the right to control the conduct of your business as it performs its work. Thus, you should determine who is in charge of the emergency site, and you should offer assistance to that person. You should seek detailed instructions from the person in charge and make sure it is clear that your business is operating under that person’s authority.

Should your business enter into a contract with the government to perform emergency services, then the rules change significantly. The provisions of the statute would still apply; however, a business that enters into a contract with the government would be considered an independent contractor. An independent contractor is an “agent” only if the government instructs the independent contractor on “what to do, not how to do it.” Therefore, when your business enters into a contract to help the government in an emergency situation, you must make sure the contract provides your business with control over the process and/or methods that it uses to do its work.

Of course, the Arizona Legislature can amend the statute to include immunity for any business entity that renders assistance during an emergency. If businesses were provided with clear protection under the statute, there would be no need for them to worry about being an “agent” of the government, and it would persuade more businesses to render assistance to the government in an emergency.