Hospital president leads by example
Jean Halpin is no stranger to taking charge. In her 25 years at OhioHealth, she’s worked her way from occupational therapist to chief operating officer of OhioHealth Neighborhood Care to her current position as president of OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital and OhioHealth Shelby Hospital. Most recently, she put her leadership skills to work on a personal level — losing 100 pounds within two years. We sat down with Jean to talk about leadership in the workplace and in life.
QUESTION: You’ve held numerous leadership positions. Have you always seen yourself as a leader?
JEAN HALPIN: No. I’m very experience-driven versus title-driven. I’ve always seen what I’ve done every day as leading, but I’ve not worried about what the next job is or the next title. It’s about how can I lead? How can I learn from an experience to give better patient care, to work with the community, to make changes or identify opportunities for improvement?
Q: What skills or qualities make for a successful leader?
JH: Three things: relationships, communication and follow-through. When I first started leadership way back in high school and ran for student council, my campaign slogan was “Things Happen with Halpin.” That’s truly what’s been my success. Physicians, the community and our associates know that they can count on me, and I will help to drive our mission.
Q: We hear a lot about the glass ceiling for women in the workplace. What’s been your experience as a female leader?
JH: OhioHealth has put a true emphasis on diversity and inclusion — whether that is gender, race or sexual orientation. That is a great testament to our company’s culture. That being said, healthcare is 70-percent female at the associate level, and it’s the flip at the leadership level — we’re 30-percent female. We need to continue our focus to develop and mentor young leaders, both women and men.
Q: Do you have any advice for others about leadership?
JH: What I try to instill is, how can you be a leader in whatever role you’re in? If you’re a nurse, how are you a leader at the bedside? If you are a patient care assistant, how are you leading the way to take care of our patients and families? You don’t have to be president to be a leader.
Q: Turning to personal leadership, what inspired you to begin your weight-loss journey?
JH: I wanted to feel better overall, and I wanted to be healthier. No one has a guarantee for tomorrow, but you can set yourself up for success for tomorrow. I took advantage of all of our OhioHealthy tools. At first, it felt overwhelming. How was I going to walk 10,000 steps in a day? But, I broke it down into smaller goals.
Q: What steps did you take to accomplish your goal?
JH: I was struggling with food allergies and not feeling well. This led to looking for the right “recipe” for success. I wanted to find balance, learn to take care of myself and control my food allergies. The toughest part of the lifestyle change was not seeking perfection and unrealistic expectations.
Q: What was your exercise and eating regime before, and what does it look like now?
JH: Before it was much more carb-based. I never ate unhealthy, but it was more quantity and definitely more carbs. Now it’s less quantity, higher protein, more vegetables. Exercise before was just minimal walking. Now, I exercise three days a week, both strength training, as well as cardio. I’m also very intentional about getting my 10,000 steps in throughout the day.