Jacksonville, Fla. (PRWEB) June 15, 2016
Growing up in a Houston neighborhood challenged with poverty and crime, Nicole Thomas’ family was determined she would have a better life.
She was steered into a magnet high school focused on health professions laying the foundation for a secure path to college. Thomas was quickly drawn to the patients she met while working as a dental assistant with her high school program.
“I have a heart for people. I wanted to find a career where I could use my business brain and my health care heart,” Thomas said.
She found her place in health care administration where she has spent the past 20 years since graduating college. Her career goal was to become a vice president of operations of a health care organization, which she reached in 2011 at Baptist Health.
Now she’s reaching another milestone as the first female at Baptist Health to hold the title of hospital president. She will replace Ron Robinson, who is retiring this fall after 11 years as hospital president of Baptist Medical Center South, Baptist Health’s second-largest hospital with 269 beds. Baptist South opened in 2005 as the health system’s first all-digital hospital.
“It is a real honor to be part of the healing experience to improve the lives of patients and their families here in Jacksonville,” Thomas said. “What we do every day is a ministry and service to our neighbors. I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead an organization that is going to be remembered by patients for touching their lives in a special way.”
A fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives, Thomas has a Master of Healthcare Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she was a Minority Merit Scholar and Institute for Diversity in Healthcare Management Scholarship recipient. She received a Bachelor of Science in Public Health Administration from Dillard University in New Orleans graduating magna cum laude.
Thomas joined Baptist Health in 2011 as vice president of operations and specialty services. She spent the five years prior with St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System in Houston leading the surgical services line and developing its primary care network, including opening the first St. Luke’s Medical Clinic. Prior to St. Luke’s, she spent nine years at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville starting as an administrative fellow and rising to practice administrator.
At Baptist, she was promoted in 2014 to senior vice president of specialty services with oversight over neurosciences, orthopedics and oncology. Most recently, Thomas had primary executive responsibility for Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center, a partnership with the nation’s leading cancer provider, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Baptist MD Anderson will open a new facility in 2018 with more than 330,000 square feet and become a destination cancer center for the region.
Also under her leadership, the neurosciences program for Baptist Health experienced significant growth including the creation of the Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville; primary stroke center certification at Baptist’s community hospitals; comprehensive stroke center designation for Baptist Jacksonville; and the launch of the Baptist Neurological Institute. In orthopedics, she led the program and introduction of robot-assisted partial knee replacement surgery.
“In addition to being a strong, effective leader, Nicole Thomas is a special person with a deep commitment to health care,” said Hugh Greene, president and CEO of Baptist Health. “Her fit with our culture and ability to make an impact were evident from the beginning.”
“We are going from strength to strength as we transition leadership at Baptist South. We are confident that Nicole will do an extraordinary job of leading Baptist South to the next chapter,” added John Wilbanks, executive vice president and chief operating officer.
“Baptist South has become the health care anchor of its surrounding community,” Thomas said. “I look forward to working with team members and physicians to ensure we continue to be the provider of choice for the residents who live in southern Duval and St. Johns counties.”
In becoming the first female to hold the hospital president title, Thomas said she is grateful for the mentorship and encouragement of top executives at Baptist, including Hugh Greene, John Wilbanks and Audrey Moran.
“I feel a great sense of responsibility to serve as a role model for girls and women to follow. I want them to know that anything is possible. You can still blaze trails even today in 2016,” Thomas said.
Thomas is already serving as a role model as outgoing chair of Women in Local Leadership for the United Way of Northeast Florida and a teacher in the children’s ministry at Bethel Baptist Institutional Church.
She serves on The Salvation Army of Northeast Florida’s Advisory Board and member of the 2013 Leadership Jacksonville Class. She also was the first chapter president and served on the board of directors of the North Florida Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives. She has been honored for her community advocacy and leadership work, being named a Woman of Influence by the Jacksonville Business Journal in 2014 and receiving a Women in Business Award from the Jacksonville Women’s Network in 2015. She also received the National Women of Achievement Profiles of Prominence in 2008 and the 2003 American College of Healthcare Executives Regent’s Young Healthcare Executive Award.
About Baptist Health
Baptist Health is a faith-based, mission-driven system in Northeast Florida comprised of Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville; Baptist Medical Center Beaches; Baptist Medical Center Nassau; Baptist Medical Center South; Baptist Clay Medical Campus and Wolfson Children’s Hospital – the region’s only children’s hospital. All Baptist Health hospitals, along with Baptist Home Health Care, have achieved Magnet™ status for excellence in patient care. Baptist Health is part of Coastal Community Health, a regional affiliation between Baptist Health, Flagler Hospital and Southeast Georgia Health System forming a highly integrated hospital network focused on significant initiatives designed to enhance the quality and value of care provided to our contiguous communities. Baptist Health has the area’s only dedicated heart hospital; orthopedic institute; women’s services; neurological institute, including comprehensive neurosurgical services, a comprehensive stroke center and three primary stroke centers; a Bariatric Center of Excellence; a full range of psychology and psychiatry services; urgent care services; and primary and specialty care physicians’ offices throughout Northeast Florida. The Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center is a regional destination for multidisciplinary cancer care which is clinically integrated with the MD Anderson Cancer Center, the internationally renowned cancer treatment and research institution in Houston. For more details, visit baptistjax.com.