Reza Kaleel ’96, ’98, FACHE “stumbled into health care” from an academic interest in the dynamics among diverse, differently trained individuals and teams that must come together to solve operational problems. But it was his personal experience with critically ill family members that inspired his vocational calling to stay in the industry. That experience, he says, “helped drive home the importance of what we are called to do as leaders and how far we are as an industry from being the great, coordinated system of care that we strive to be in this country.” As Vice President/COO at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Grand Junction, Colorado, a position he assumed in January of 2012, Reza is working diligently toward that goal.
Because administrators, doctors, therapists, nurses, environmental services technicians and many other professionals affiliated with health care institutions speak different languages, he says “it takes a lot of energy and commitment to get the proverbial oars rowing in the same direction.” Thus, Reza takes justifiable pride in the level of trust and respectful communication he has developed with his teams. “Learning from and bringing together diverse groups to develop common goals has kept me professionally challenged, engaged and excited for the past 18 years,” he says. “There is never a shortage of new things to learn, new people to meet, and new challenges to be met. But my greatest satisfaction comes from being connected to something much bigger than myself and being able to celebrate with our team when we know we have accomplished a goal or made a significant difference in someone’s life.”
Although concerned by the escalating tone of partisan bickering among politicians and the negative effect it may have on the ability of government and providers to work together on necessary compromises, Reza’s outlook on the industry’s future is optimistic. Despite heightened pressure from both private sector and government to improve quality and reduce costs, the spotlight that has been shining on the system’s imperfections encourages him. ‘”I feel the number of bright, well-trained, solution-oriented people in this business are up to the challenge of leading through the difficult changes that are needed to improve our health care system,” he says. ”Technology start-ups and other organizations not traditionally associated with health care are entering the industry at an increasing pace. This will only help to accelerate progress.”
Professionally active, Reza is a Board Member and Finance Committee Chair of Quality Health Network (Western Colorado’s Health Information Exchange) and a Fellow and at-large board member of Colorado’s ACHE chapter. He recently completed a three-year Catholic Ministry Leadership Formation program for executive leaders in Catholic health care.
As a Colorado resident, Reza spends lots of time outdoors skiing, hiking, and mountain biking. An avid guitar player/songwriter, he keeps an electric guitar, his “therapist,” in his office and often jams with local musician friends. But lately, he most enjoys spending time with his wife and 19-month-old daughter.
For current students considering a career in health care, Reza offers this advice: “Gain exposure to as many different individuals and facets of our industry as you can. Find an aspect that speaks to your heart, learn it well, and then work hard to be a contributor. The rest will come.”