Episode 9 – How a Values-Driven CEO Transformed Denver Health | Patty Gabow, MD


In this episode I spoke with Dr. Patty Gabow, a nephrologist and researcher who found the right match for her values at Denver Health, a city-center integrated health and hospital system.  Dr. Gabow found her leadership chops early, and describes how her passion to care for the underserved fueled a twenty-year stint as CEO of the large, level-one trauma safety-net institution. 

Dr. Gabow describes wrangling for four years with city officials to allow the struggling hospital system to become independent from the Denver city bureaucracy.  Once it became an independent government entity, she was able to leverage all the advantages of the integrated system and the special organizational culture. She had unprecedented results with excellent quality of care for the community that Denver Health served, low staff turnover, and twenty years of financial stability. 

Listen in as Patty Gabow reveals her wonderful gift as a storyteller. She illustrates many hallmarks of excellent leadership: putting patients first, being clear about the “why,maintaining excellent relationships even when disagreeing with others, having unassailable expertise and—having the data.  She describes her experience squelching the concerns she faced as a new CEO that “doctors can’t do finance”. 

Dr. Gabow talks about the “wonderful” culture at Denver Health and how people responded to a seven-year LEAN journey. The comprehensive change that they needed came from the bottom up and drove even better results despite severe fiscal limitations.  She said “the culture was there, and I nourished it.”  She is quick and consistent in crediting her team, an inspiring group of leaders (most of whom happened to be women). 

Listen in as Dr. Gabow weighs in on why physicians must lead, how values must drive healthcare strategy, and why her latest book Time’s Now for Women Healthcare Leaders is focused on doing what it takes to get women into leadership positions. 

I have to say, I’m proud that Licensed to Lead was Dr. Gabow’s first podcast guest adventure. 

I’m quite sure it won’t be the last—she is phenomenal!

TIME’S NOW for Women Healthcare Leaders: A Guide for the Journey by Patricia A. Gabow, MD