Amanda Hedgpeth has been flexing her leadership muscles at CoxHealth since her mid-20s.
At 25, she was one of the youngest department heads in the health system’s history. Three years later she became the youngest member of the administrative team, and now she’s on the cusp of becoming the youngest hospital president of the 115-year-old organization.
She credits her career to an infectious drive to solve problems, and to the organization that models what’s possible when employees buy into a common mission.
“When I’m with a group of people, one of my main priorities is how do I get that group of people just as excited and just as passionate about fixing a problem, making something better,” she says.
That ability to rally a team was never more critical than during the COVID-19 pandemic, which Hedgpeth easily names as the most challenging time of her 16-year career in health care. She led CoxHealth’s incident command with President and CEO Steve Edwards.
“Our ability to just pull everybody together quickly and make a decision at 10 a.m. that by noon is being pushed out everywhere … we’re all focused on a common purpose and a defined goal,” she says of the Springfield-based health system’s response.
The relentlessness of the pandemic continues to be challenging, she says, along with the increasing and changing demands for care.
“We had high expenses obviously with COVID, with surgeries shut down, with contract labor and innovative things we did like funding to stand up a school for our employees when Springfield said they were only going to go two days a week,” she says.
Federal and state relief funds were critical to fill the gap. The hospital ended 2020 with $1.4 billion in net patient revenue, right in line with 2019.
Hedgpeth says the imbalanced workforce supply and demand remains a key issue. In August 2021, CoxHealth announced a $25.5 million annual investment to increase wages. And that commitment to employees was evident during the pandemic as the health system did not use layoffs to save costs.
In February 2022, Hedgpeth will become the president of Springfield hospitals, which includes oversight of the emergency department, air care, trauma and strategic initiatives.
Just a month after her promotion was announced, Edwards shared his retirement plans for 2022. Hedgpeth says she won’t apply for the job, citing “very viable internal candidates.” She says her focus now is on her upcoming role with the health system she started her career with.
“I have no plans on going elsewhere,” she says. “I would absolutely hope to retire here.”
A career pivot for a former human resources professional resulted in Bosky’s Vegan Grill; Neverending Game Store LLC made its second move in as many years; and Mercy Springfield Communities added a second Queen City clinic focused on sports rehabilitation and performance improvement.