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Charting Cooper’s new course on growth

CEO Kirby using partnerships, affiliations and medical school to spur South Jersey power

CEO Adrienne Kirby is overseeing the growth of Cooper University Health System.-(PHOTO BY AARON HOUSTON)

Adrienne Kirby is not your typical hospital CEO in New Jersey.
She is a nurse.
She has a doctorate.
And she actually was born in the hospital she now runs.

In her first interview since taking over the top role at Cooper University Health System in Camden, following the tragic death of her predecessor John Sheridan last fall, Kirby talked about her vision moving forward: How she intends to strengthen Cooper as the leading health care provider in South Jersey, make the medical school it just started with Rowan University a catalyst for helping the state battle its physician shortage and help the hospital serve as a driver of an economic revival in the state’s seventh-largest city.

Cooper University Health System CEO Adrienne Kirby discussed a wide range of issues with NJBIZ. Here are just some of her thoughts on her hospital, her industry and her role in all of it.

NJBIZ: Let’s start with Camden. Many people see Cooper as the economic and social driver of the city. How do you see Cooper anchoring the revival of Camden, and do you feel pressure to do so?

Adrienne Kirby: Our focus has never wavered as an organization. Years ago, we knew that other health systems either downsized or left Camden and left the city and moved to the suburbs, and our board of trustees has remained committed to staying here and making positive changes and I think it’s really paying off.

If you look out my office window, you can see how the hospital continues to grow. We built a new (patient care) pavilion and the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

We have the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. We just made the decision to move back into Camden over 500 of our staff and employees that have been in Cherry Hill and other locations.

We’re moving them back into Camden not far from the hospital, so we can improve how we do our work and how we work together. It is a major move for 500 folks to be coming back into Camden. We will have close to 3,700 staff a day that are coming in and out of the city.

NJBIZ: Do you think some people still are reluctant to come to Camden?

AK: I can tell you for our workforce and our physician workforce, it has never been an issue. From a recruitment standpoint, it is 100 percent not an issue. From a patient standpoint, we do market analyses every year to see what the perception is of the broad community about Cooper. And being in Camden is sometimes mentioned but it is not at all what it was in prior years.

In our cancer program, if you look at our market share growth, it has been from suburban ZIP codes at a much higher rate than anything we’re seeing from the city.

Beth Fitzgerald

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