New position: Senior vice president, surgery operations, HealthSouth, St. Petersburg. Previous position: Vice president, surgery operations, HealthSouth, St. Petersburg
By FRED W. WRIGHT JR.
Published April 12, 2004
As one of four senior vice presidents nationwide for HealthSouth, Donna Gelardi-Slosburg has responsibility for 41 surgery centers in seven states. Since January, she has visited nearly every one of them, on the road three out of every four weeks.
Her ambulatory surgery centers are scattered along the East Coast - Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island and Connecticut, as well as West Virginia and Florida.
Gelardi-Slosburg's responsibility includes to ensure the centers provide the best possible patient care and to "troubleshoot, analyze and advise our centers on how to make them financially profitable," she said. "It's a balance; you've got to always have the best patient care and be financially profitable."
HealthSouth has more than 196 surgery centers in 37 states, she said.
The surgery centers typically are freestanding buildings, not attached to or affiliated with any hospital. "They're a place to go to do surgery that can be done in one day," she said, although in some states - but not Florida - patients may stay overnight.
Typical procedures include cataract surgery, hernia surgery, podiatry surgery, knee procedures, orthopedic procedures and the like, she said. In Gelardi-Slosburg's seven states, more than 176,000 cases were treated last year. Nationwide, HealthSouth had more than 800,000 cases, she said.
Gelardi-Slosburg, 49, grew up in Long Island, New York, and her family moved to the Tampa Bay area when she was 16. She studied at St. Petersburg Junior College, earning an associate's degree in science in 1975 and an associate's degree in arts in 1978. She then went on to earn a bachelor of science degree in nursing in 1981 from the University of South Florida.
Gelardi-Slosburg worked as a nurse in St. Petersburg from 1975-91 and joined HealthSouth's St. Petersburg Surgery Center in 1992 as a nurse manager. As she rose through the ranks in administration, she gained responsibility for more and more surgery centers, first five, then seven, now 41.
"The role I have now, the person does not have to be a nurse," Gelardi-Slosburg said. "But because I am, when I talk to a nurse or a physician, I can speak their language. And I think that's one of my strong points. That helps me keep my perspective when it comes to saving dollars and doing the right thing."
Gelardi-Slosburg said she misses working with patients directly and working with patients experiencing surgery. "You can be all things to that patient. You have to be an advocate. You need a skill set. You need to know the instruments," she said.
"You always miss that patient contact," she said. "My job now is extremely rewarding; it's just different."
Gelardi-Slosburg says her interest in nursing grew out of a desire to help others.
"I really love people," she said. "I wanted to make a difference. I just gravitated to nursing."
In high school, she worked in an area nursing home. "I think that may be the reason I went into nursing," Gelardi-Slosburg said.
Gelardi-Slosburg also is president of the Florida Society of Ambulatory Surgery Centers.
She and her husband, Jack, a local physician, live in St. Petersburg. Their love for travel and for scuba diving has taken them all over the world, she said, including China, India, Africa and throughout the Caribbean. "Since we don't have kids, that's sort of our baby," she said.