Florence Spyrow’s career has taken her from intensive care to extensive management. As the new interim president and CEO of Northern Arizona Healthcare, Spyrow is the first woman to head up NAH, one of Northern Arizona’s anchor organizations and top employers.
NAH is the administrative and governing arm of health care facilities: Flagstaff Medical Center, Cancer Centers of Northern Arizona Healthcare and Verde Valley Medical Center. Spyrow’s background in executive management and her experience in health care has prepared her for this leadership role.
Spyrow’s background includes top positions in the health care industry in Illinois and Iowa, where she was recognized for her cost-effective results and vision.
Her goals for NAH include valuing people through relationships, empowering teams to best meet the needs of patients and communities, focusing on excellence in quality and safety, and making health care more affordable. She believes a great work environment, where staff members find meaning and joy in what they do, is crucial to reaching these objectives.
“I started my career as a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit in Portland. I loved caring for patients and their families, but my husband’s job with John Deere took me many places across the country. Eventually, I landed in management roles where my passion became creating great work environments for staff so that they can provide amazing care to patients. Then, as my husband refers to it, I had a midlife crisis and went to law school. I was in-house counsel for a healthcare system for eight years before I returned to healthcare leadership.”
Spyrow received her bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing from universities in California and Oregon. She earned a master’s degree in public and health administration at Portland State University, and a juris doctorate degree at the University of Iowa. Spyrow is licensed to practice law in Iowa and Illinois, and is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
She says the move to Arizona has proved to be enjoyable. Spyrow joined the NAH healthcare system in 2015 as the organization’s executive vice president, and CEO of Flagstaff Medical Center.
“My husband and I love it!” she said. “While corn and soybean fields are beautiful, we love being in Northern Arizona among the ponderosas and the beautiful mountains. We are able to golf and enjoy other outdoor activities more often and without 90-percent humidity!”
She says daunting challenges facing the modern health care industry include a lack of health care professionals and access to care.
“The United States is experiencing a physician and nurse shortage that makes it difficult for everyone to recruit. Recruiting and retaining the very best providers is key to providing amazing care to our patients. It is also key to improving access to care – from access to primary care and behavioral health to neurology and other key specialties.”
Another challenge facing the industry is the cost of health care. Today, patients have a larger burden to pay out-of-pocket for services and have high deductibles or less comprehensive health care plans.
“We owe it to our patients to provide amazing health care and an amazing patient experience, at an affordable cost, for every patient, every time and at every location across our system. They will shop for competitive pricing, and limited quality comparisons are available,” Spyrow said. “Thus, we need to be able to estimate their cost of care before they receive services and consistently offer competitive pricing close to home.”
Florence and her husband have been married for 40 years. Their son, Andy, plans to attend law school. FBN
By Betsey Bruner, FBN