Congratulations are in order for Donald “John” Emery, president of Bon Secours Southside Medical Center and Bon Secours Southern Virginia Medical Center. This young, emerging leader has been named to Style Weekly’s Top 40 Under 40 List!
John has led his teams through tremendous change in the last two years, including an acquisition and a global pandemic. He embodies compassionate leadership and never expects more of someone than he is willing to give himself. Throughout these times of change, John has always maintained stability, inclusion and success. He is down to earth, approachable and is genuinely optimistic in all things, regardless of the situation or circumstance
“By virtue of his nature, personality and humility, John has brought a sense of calmness and stability to the areas that he oversees,” Kathleen Ware, vice president of nursing at Bon Secours Southern Virginia Medical Center, shares. “He exhibits a realistic vision and sense of direction, and while it may feel as though it stretches you at times, it is team-driven and achievable. He ensures all he leads feel heard and are truly a part of the team to come to a workable solution, and ultimately shared successes.”
When we caught up with John about what this recognition means to him, he shared, “it is very humbling. I truly believe that this is more of a reflection of all the teams – both personally and professionally – that I have been a part of over the years, than of me as an individual. These teams have and continue to support me and teach me new things every single day. My recognition is a recognition of all of them.”
Get to know a little bit more about John below.
His career path
John’s interest in the health care industry began with his grandfather. Serving as a physician, his grandfather was able to impact so many people in a positive way. Because of this, John knew a health care career would be different. His father was in business and from that, John was able to observe how you could serve people and innovate to make changes for the better. However, it wasn’t until his older brother began pursuing a career in health care administration that John was inspired to follow suit.
“I was gifted the chance of seeing what this career would look like,” John says. “After seeing what it could be, I knew that was where I need to be and never looked back.”
In addition to being president of Southside Medical Center and Southern Virginia Medical Center, John also oversees the oncology services for our Richmond market and is involved in other market efforts and committees as well. Prior to his time at Bon Secours, John spent nearly a decade working on executive leadership teams at hospitals in Florida.
Joining our ministry
On Jan. 1, 2020, Bon Secours acquired both Southside Medical Center and Southern Virginia Medical Center. Along with this acquisition, these hospitals became part of a faith-based health system. While there are some more straightforward changes that come along with that, like beginning shifts or meetings with prayers or reflections, there are also changes that are harder to quantify.
“It is hard to explain, but ‘the why’ is easier for our teams to connect with, which enables them to pass that along to all they interact with on a daily basis,” John shares.
Another change John sees is the added empathy and compassion that you feel from everyone.
“It all just means a little bit more,” he adds. “It has been a wonderful thing to join Bon Secours. It would be very challenging to express just how positive this transition has been for us all.”
Leading during a pandemic
Leading two hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic has required tremendous agility and problem-solving daily that stretched and challenged John in very different ways from the standard industry challenges he was used to. However, “serving in the health care industry during this time has only reinforced that I am where I am supposed to be,” John says.
He adds, “it has been tremendously rewarding to serve during this time in that we have all been challenged to solve problems in a way that we haven’t had to before. That level of creativity has been fun, stressful and exciting all at the same time.”
Keeping it in the family
“It is amazing how things come full circle and you truly feel like you are where you are meant to be,” John says. “I was born in Mercy Health – Willard Hospital in December of 1985. My grandfather settled in Willard in the 1950s and established a medical practice where he served as a general practitioner with two other partners. This was a time when a physician in a rural community treated outpatients, delivered babies, made house calls and also served as the local medical examiner. In the late 1970s to early 1980s, the hospital in Willard was in need of a partner and found that in Mercy Health.”
This is the same Mercy Health that merged with Bon Secours in 2018 to form Bon Secours Mercy Health, of which Bon Secours Richmond is a part.
“My father was on the board at the hospital surrounding this transaction and my grandfather was involved in his capacity as a physician,” John shares. “Both have always been impressed with the way the acquisition process occurred and the resulting leadership and stewardship of Mercy Health.”
Shortly after arriving in Virginia, John learned that the hospital would soon be acquired by Bon Secours. As this process unfolded and he had the opportunity to become part of the ministry, it became very clear to him that this was meant to be. He was where he was supposed to be.
“It has been a wonderful transition and it is incredible to think that I now have the chance to impact care for patients in the same health system that my grandfather worked with.”
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