Dr. Edgar Staren is the CEO and President of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Western Regional Medical Center in Goodyear, Ariz. Az Business Magazine and Grand Canyon University invited Dr. Staren to speak to an intimate audience of one hundred Arizona business owners and executives at Grand Canyon University on June 27th. In this lecture he shares his first hand experience as a cancer survivor and the importance of empowering the patient to be in control of their treatment. Dr. Staren also speaks to the value of not only technological innovation, but process innovation in health care and other industries.
Dr. Edgar Staren is president and CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America — Western Regional Medical Center.
How is being CEO of CTCA different than being CEO of a more traditional company?
I end up having a different ability to empower my stakeholders (employees). We believe in our value, which is we are hopeful, we are empowering, we are responsive, we are ethical, we a re innovative and we are compassionate, and I believe that the empowerment aspect as a CEO means that I’m allowed to encourage my stakeholders to do everything they can to take care of our patients, which are our customers
What qualities do you think an effective CEO has to have in any business?
They need to have leadership, which is manifested by a dedication to personify the mission, vision, values, and the foundation upon which the organization is based. I believe that they need to have absolute integrity. Without that, they are simply not going to be trusted or admired and respected by their stakeholders. Particularly in the healthcare industry, I believe they need to be servant leaders. They need to be out there demonstrating the type of service to the customers that they would want to be demonstrating among all the stakeholders.
What strengths make you an effective CEO at CTCA?
I’ve had a personal tragedy that I believe turned into a professional blessing in that I am a cancer survivor myself. It has allowed me to understand where our patients come from and the things that are of value to them. That has been more educational for me than any of the schooling or mentoring that I had prior to that point.
What is the biggest challenge for the employees at CTCA?
It’s hard to be a CTCA stakeholder. We try and provide mother standard of care. If Mom’s ill, that becomes emotionally tough. We become close to our patients; we care about them dearly; we feel like they are family. And to go to those lengths, to go to those extremes that you go through to be able to take care of a patient like it’s mom, can be hard. On the other side of the coin, it is so gratifying to know that you are making a difference in someone’s life. I feel very privileged to be doing important work, work that I know makes a difference and I’m paid a salary for doing so. What a privilege.
What advice would you give to someone who wants a leadership role in the healthcare industry?
Be true to your mission, vision, and values. Personify those as a leader. Recognize that much of what you do is not in the words that are spoken, but in the actions that you take. I think that reflects that whole philosophy of servant leadership and if you end up being an exemplary servant leader, then you are likely to be successful in the position.
If you weren’t doing what you are doing now, what would you like to be doing?
I can’t imagine doing anything other than what I’m doing right now. I feel privileged.
Dr. Edgar Staren
Cancer Treatment Centers of America
As a CEO, surgeon and cancer survivor, Staren is the “triple threat” that cancer fears and patients look to for assistance. As a seven-year cancer survivor and renowned surgical oncologist, Staren not only brings an expert eye to all of his employee and patient responsibilities, he brings a spirit of empathy, compassion and hope that touches everybody he interacts with at CTCA. Staren is often found in employee huddles around the hospital, providing expert insight to CTCA employees and listening to their needs, or discussing the necessity of new technology or a procedure to ensure CTCA physicians offer the highest level of care to patients. However, the role Staren values most – cancer survivor – provides rare insight into CTCA patients’ day-to-day needs. It’s not uncommon to find him discussing the day’s events with patients during his rounds, offering advice when asked or just a sympathetic ear when needed. Staren is more than a CEO. He leads with an expert and empathetic hand and lives CTCA’s mission, vision and values every day in every task to ensure CTCA provides the life-saving care that its patients cannot find anywhere else.
Besides leading one of the top performing hospitals in the Banner Health system, Nenaber served a critical leadership role during the planning, building and ultimate opening of the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, which opened in September 2011. Her leadership also fostered the successful integration of a team of more than 300 highly-specialized employees who now serve the community and its cancer care needs. In addition, Nenaber regularly mentors hospital leaders. Her most recent mentorship success was with a department director who was promoted to associate administrator at a sister Banner Health hospital.