By MARY BETH MAASSEN
It has been a busy week at Los Alamos Medical Center (LAMC). Former CEO Feliciano Jiron was spirited away to manage another LifePoint Health hospital in Arizona and John Whiteside, a veteran healthcare administrator stepped up to manage LAMC and assume the role of interim CEO.
Whiteside most recently served as COO of a two-hospital system in Louisiana that also is part of the LifePoint Health system. As COO of the two facilities, he oversaw daily operations of the hospitals and was instrumental in recruiting needed physicians to the community and improving physician satisfaction.
“John is an accomplished and dynamic leader with an extensive background in hospital management and a strong commitment to community,” said Brad Owens, chief operating officer (COO) of LifePoint Health’s Western Group. “He is a rising star within the LifePoint network, and I am confident he will do a wonderful job guiding the hospital through this important transition.”
Whiteside arrived at LAMC on Friday and hit the ground running, meeting with LAMC leadership and other key personnel. He is working closely with Jiron to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible.
“Feliciano and I are both military men, we communicate well, and we are both committed to our patients, our physicians, our staff, and our community. Those priorities will not change,” Whiteside said.
Prior to Louisiana, Whiteside lived in Florida after serving in the Marines and completing three combat tours in Iraq. Wanting to continue to serve and interested in healthcare, he worked as a sales representative and then an area business leader for Novartis Pharmaceuticals.
“I soon realized that pharmaceutical sales was not the same as healthcare, but my interest and proclivity for leadership was strong,” he said. “I returned to school, intent on serving my community through hospital leadership. I have been fortunate to have great mentors and it is a job that I love. I look forward to everyday.”
Whiteside completed both his Masters of Healthcare Administration and his MBA while in Florida.
Although unfamiliar with New Mexico when LifePoint asked him to relocate to Los Alamos, Whiteside is connecting quickly.
“The old military-style buildings made me feel instantly at home. The weather is amazing and the mountains are beautiful,” Whiteside said. “Everyone I have met has been open and kind and helpful.”
Only in town a few hours on Friday, Whiteside was one of the few hearty souls to attend the summer concert at Ashley Pond that night, even as black clouds threatened. On Sunday by 7 a.m., he was at the Posse Lodge breakfast. The event was to benefit the Los Alamos Relay for Life. He quickly pitched in cleaning tables and hosting patrons, making a great impression on those working beside him.
“This is what builds a community, serving together,” Whiteside said. “I am an advocate of servant leadership. Servant leadership enriches the lives of those who practice it, it builds healthier organizations, it develops a more just and caring community, and ultimately it creates a more just and caring world. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?”
When not working or engaged in community activities Whiteside said he enjoys the outdoors. An avid jogger, hiker and mountain biker, he intends to become familiar with the many Los Alamos trails soon. He also intends to take advantage of the Los Alamos Sportsmen’s Club. He is also dog-lover, but still mourning the recent loss of his two Labrador Retrievers. Whiteside noticed right away that Los Alamos is a dog-loving community.
“It is a little too soon, right now, but there will be more dogs in my future, no doubt,” he said.
Although his current title is “interim CEO”, Whiteside said the fate of the “interim” rests with the staff of LAMC and the community of Los Alamos.
“I want to be here and to be a part of this community. I have made the commitment. We are going to give it a little time to make sure the staff and community want me,” Whiteside said. “If I am asked to stay, I would love to be a part of Los Alamos.