Dr. Maria Cagle of Cone Health to learn the language of possibility


Congratulations on your promotion. What advice would you have for managers during a merger or acquisition?
Start with the “why” in all your communications. Take a look at why the team made this decision. Remember the book, The Three Laws of Entertainment. Benefits and perceptions are rooted in the language, so use the language of possibility. Finally, you can never communicate too much.

He recently oversaw the opening and then closure of a hospital to treat COVID patients. What did he teach you?
During the opening and closing of our COVID hospital (we were open for 12 months), we learned a new level of agility. We took the lessons we learned from Lean around continuous improvement and letting the people who do the work conceive the work. We put it into action at a higher level. Necessity is truly the mother of invention. And when dedicated professionals are empowered to solve a problem for their community, the results can be inspiring.

You said you’re the first or one of the first for some of the things you did. What is the biggest challenge with this?
When you’re the “first” to do something or be in a role, there’s no plan and many are looking to see if you can “measure up”. Your work is more carefully examined. I am asked more closely and you have to do a higher level to receive the same level of acceptance. The good news about all this is that you become better, smarter, faster and more informed. You also often have to design your own model. My motto is, “Don’t be discouraged, get better.”


What is your role model in and outside of health care?
Jeane Kirkpatrick and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were great role models for me outside of health care. And as a child, I read everything I could find about Marie Curie. She inspired me.

We’re celebrating our 45th anniversary this year by asking who do you see as the most influential health leaders of recent years?
Dr. Don Berwick and his work toward patient safety have transformed health care. President Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act have changed policy, strategy and practice. Finally, I would like to thank Seema Verma and how she did the politics.

Be part of an environment for women’s health professionals to learn, grow, connect, be inspired and mentor each other and the next generation of female leadership. It’s more than a conference. It’s a community! Sign up for u Conference of Women Leaders in Health on July 22-23.

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