The New CEO of CoxHealth

The new CEO of CoxHealth proves planning for the future truly pays off in the most satisfying way.

    In 1982, 16-year-old Steve Edwards found his first job on the grounds crew at CoxHealth, picking up trash and cigarette butts and working his way up to planting flowers.
Three decades and many years of schooling later, Edwards delighted in accepting the title of CEO. At a young age, he was very committed to planning his life, and in his 20s, Edwards created a document outlining his life plan that included becoming the CEO of CoxHealth between ages 40 and 45. Edwards is 46.
“I believe the best way to predict your future is to create your future, so if you really want something, plan for it,” he says. “I found my skill set to be oriented toward business management and leadership, so I planned accordingly.”
Growing up, Edwards’ mom and sister were nurses, and his dad was CEO of CoxHealth. Sitting at the dinner table, he’d hear about his family’s sometimes long and stressful days, but they kept going back to those stressful jobs because they received a reward beyond the pay itself. The hospital makes you feel like you’re making a difference and draws you in, he says.
Other than his childhood dream of becoming shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals, there’s no job Edwards would rather be doing, and he doesn’t intend on ever leaving Springfield.
“I’ve got a thousand ideas, and we’re going to make them happen.”
Recently, the hospital had a 23-year-old patient who had cervical cancer with a very bad prognosis. The movie The Lion King was being re-released in 3D in theaters, and she had been contemplating how her circle of life was coming to a close, so she really wanted to see the movie with her family. A nurse heard about it, and the idea worked its way up the system. But the patient’s health deteriorated quickly, and there was no way she could leave, even for the length of a movie.
Edwards was at a hospital social event when the case was mentioned, and Larry Lipscomb, the chairman of the board, knew Tom Whitlock, who lives in Springfield and won an Academy Award. “Whitlock has connections in L.A. and was able to have the movie shipped overnight to us,” says Edwards.
The hospital had a 90-inch 3D TV delivered for the occasion, and the staff got popcorn and 3D glasses to create a movie-going experience. The young woman got to watch the movie with her family, and just five days later she passed away.
“It’s the kind of thing you’d never measure, and it’s not part of the quality scores, but these people made a huge difference for her,” says Edwards. “It makes me really proud of the organization.”

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