The Health Management Academy
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Episode 07

Applying a ‘Moonshot’ Lens to Health Equity

Episode Description

In this episode, Gene Woods, President & CEO of Atrium Health, joins Renee at The Table. They explore how to invoke the same ingenuity and collaboration that landed us on the moon to closing health disparities. Later, Gene shares insights on consumer orientation from his board service with Best Buy, and Renee learns more about his not-so-secret musical talent.

About Our Guest

Gene Woods, President & CEO, Atrium Health

Eugene A. Woods, MBA, MHA, FACHE, is president and chief executive officer of Atrium Health, a nationally leading, non-profit health system with more than 70,000 teammates serving patients at 42 hospitals and over 1,500 care locations. Read more


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Renee DeSilva 0:06

Welcome back to the Academy Table. I’m Renee DeSilva, CEO of the Health Management Academy and your host. I’m happy to have you back with us again. Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with Gene Woods, President and CEO of Atrium Health. Much of our conversation focused on health equity and the many approaches Gene and Atrium have leveraged to close gaps including within their COVID response, community partnerships, and investments along with a host of structural changes in the executive suite. I’d like to bring your attention to a few key takeaways. First, I love how Gene has applied a moonshot lens to solving health equity. Essentially, how do we invoke the same ingenuity and collaboration that landed us on the moon to eliminate health disparities? Next, listen for how he articulates the role of personal storytelling when engaging others on potentially sensitive issues like race and racism. Third, Gene serves on the board of Best Buy. In recent years, Best Buy has pivoted to deliver an omnichannel, fully consumer-centric product. His insights here are particularly valuable for health system transformation post COVID. Lastly, I enjoyed getting to know Gene. Of course we know him as a driven and innovative healthcare leader, but I learned about his talented musical skills. His thoughts on the power of music and art carry meaning for everyone even if you’re like me and your outlet is just mediocre, really bad karaoke. So with that, let’s head to The Table.

Good morning, Gene. Welcome to The Academy Table. Really happy to have you.

Gene Woods 1:50
Good morning. It’s great to be here with you.

Renee DeSilva 1:53
I appreciate you joining me. I have been looking forward to this conversation and want to get into all the great work that you’ve been doing, particularly around health equity. Before we do though, give us a little bit of a sense of your background and maybe some of the early forces that shaped you.

Gene Woods 2:08
Sure. Well, I guess the way I would start by describing my family is sort of like the UN, a United Nations. My father actually grew up African American, he is from a rural town in Tennessee. He joined the Navy and met my mother over in Spain. She grew up in a town in southern Spain called Jerez de la Frontera, Andalusia, the southern region there. Then the mother of my kids was half Mohawk and half Dutch Irish. In many ways, we reflect the rich tapestry of this country, if you will. That has shaped a lot of how I lead and really how I interact with all kinds of people, whether rural or city and all different kinds of backgrounds. In terms of what shaped me and sort of what led me into healthcare, there are a couple of important moments in my childhood. One is that my Aunt Carmen, one of my favorite aunts when we were in Spain, was admitted for severe headaches and it ended up that there was a medication error that resulted in her death. So I kind of saw the worst, if you will, of healthcare. Then when I was about nine years old, my mother was driving and it was her, my sister, myself, my aunt, and my uncle in a car. We were going to the beach on a beautiful Sunday. The car malfunctioned and we hit a brick wall going probably what would have been about 70 miles an hour. None of us should have made it out of that car. My recollection, even at that young age, was that all of a sudden we were surrounded by what felt to be angels. They were there rescuing us and taking us to the hospital. I saw the not-so-great side of healthcare and the best side of healthcare as we always say. Kind of what we have seen in COVID — when people are running from the fire, we’re running towards it. As I have progressed through my 30-year career, those two experiences have stayed with me.

Renee DeSilva 4:08
Wow. You said you were nine when that car accident happened so that was an early force where you were able to see healthcare at its best and it sounds like that stayed with you. That’s a pretty powerful story.

Gene Woods 4:20
Absolutely. We ended up at different hospitals. The main thing I remember is getting to the hospital, it was myself and my mother at the hospital, and being worried about everybody else. The caregivers, even as a young kid, told me that they were ok and explained things to me. That compassionate care is something that I appreciated when I was a kid and certainly we try to emulate as Atrium Health today.

Renee DeSilva 4:47
That’s great. So you studied at Penn State in college and it sounds like you landed in a healthcare administration orientation session and maybe that put you on the formal path. Is that a good way to think about it or how would you explain that?

Gene Woods 5:00
Yeah, exactly. When I went into college I had no idea what I wanted to do or be. I was the first in my family to go to college. I speak Spanish fluently and I knew that I kind of liked business early on. When I was a teenager, I was part of the Junior Jaycees and learned a little bit about how to make things and sell things. I went there vaguely thinking that might be something I wanted to do. I have family that does international business. I mixed up the days, the career days, and it was a local hospital administrator talking about how they needed young, bright minds really to transform healthcare. They literally had me at hello. I signed up for the Penn State healthcare administration program right then and there and it has led me to today.

Renee DeSilva 5:46
That was a happy accident.

Gene Woods 5:47
It was a very happy accident.

Renee DeSilva 5:49
Yes. I remember my first job in high school was working in the main kitchen at Rhode Island Hospital, which is where I’m from. As part of that you had to deliver meals to floors. I remember being so struck by the flurry of activity that always was anchored around a hospital setting and at that point being curious about what that could mean. I recall vividly, probably in my late 20s, going back to that hospital that I was serving food in the kitchen and meeting with the hospital CEO related to some work that we were doing with them for the company that I worked with at that time. I felt like, wow, what a full circle moment in terms of how all these things can come together. Your story definitely lands with me.

Gene Woods 6:30
Yeah, it’s amazing how those things can shape you in ways that you don’t fully anticipate at the time. By the way, I’m also from Rhode Island so we share that in common.

Renee DeSilva 6:37
We do. It’s great. Okay, so Atrium. I love where your commitment comes from in terms of seeing healthcare being delivered from the patient lens, wanting to ensure that you can create that experience for the patients and populations that you serve. You recently had a congressional testimony where you talked about the health equity moonshot. I think the way that you framed it was this notion of watching COVID having such a disproportionate impact on people of color and feeling a sense of personal accountability and being really animated around addressing that. So I’d love for you to talk more about how you think about a health equity moonshot. What does that look like to you?

Gene Woods 7:20
Yeah, well, first of all, I think this past year, as we all know, it was a time for us as healthcare providers to demonstrate that our mission was real and not just words on a page. The only way to do that is through action, really engaging deeply in those communities that would be particularly effective. We’ve known for so long that there are deep disparities in both rural and urban communities that we need to solve. It really came to light during COVID where people of color were being affected, sometimes dying at six times the rate of the majority population. In that testimony what I shared is that the major components or the root causes of health inequity could be similar — whether you’re a poor African mother in New York or a Hispanic farmworker in Texas. It’s throughout the country. The fundamental call to action that I shared in the Senate was that it took us less than a decade to put Neil Armstrong on the moon. Doing so required this tremendous collaboration, ingenuity, it really showed who we were as Americans at our very best. So many phenomenal things came out of that moonshot if you will. My call was that we could apply the same level of collaboration and ingenuity in these times. If we could do that, we could eliminate health disparities by 2030, whether in rural or urban communities, if we collectively took this moment in time to say, “Not on our watch,” which is the approach that we took in our communities. If there were testing disparities, we were going to be there working with the churches, working with other community groups to say, “How do we make this different right now?” That’s the kind of orientation we bring to it. We call it our “for all mission — health, hope, and healing for all.” I’m really, really proud of how this organization has stood tall at this moment through actions that our mission was real.

Renee DeSilva 9:12
Yeah, I want to talk a little bit about your specific response to it. But before I go there, we’ve been doing some work at The Academy around this too, around how we think about building a health equity platform that can make these bold moves and try to move the needle on closing gaps in outcome. Let’s just talk about the components that you believe need to be part of that strategy. So you talk about the importance of data sets that help us get to real-time analytics around that. Maybe activate a bit more around the components of a platform that you think would be most helpful in trying to close that gap.

Gene Woods 9:45
Yeah, well, I think first we talked a lot about the tone of the topic. It does really start there. The CEO and the board have to be on the same page that this is important to the organization. What we did last year as we were working through the heat of the pandemic on the heels of George Floyd’s killing, we didn’t want to have forgotten what we’ve gone through two years from now. We wanted to embed structural components into our system to make sure that this was something we’d be committed to even well beyond my tenure. We did set up this governance structure. The board chair and I co-led a committee at the highest level of governance to look at every single aspect of the organization and how we could continue to get better. We called it our 2.0 version of our “for all” mission. We now have as part of the enterprise, every single board committee, every single one in it has a social impact part of their charter. For example, if you look at our investment committee, we have very significant investments. We’ve moved over $250 million of our investments, and we’re continuing to do more, into black-owned equity firms, for example, to create entrepreneurship and wealth and things of that nature. It covers every single aspect of governance. It does start there. The other thing you mentioned is data. Data is so important to everything that we do, but we realized early on that we had this ability to geo, spatially map our communities. Down to the zip code, we knew in the middle of COVID what the medium income was, what was the testing distribution, what the mortality rates were, diabetes, and rates of other diseases. We used that, for example, with our roving medical vans to go to those communities rather than a shotgun approach. We knew exactly where we needed to go to eliminate testing disparities, for example. The learnings in COVID were that data needs to be actionable. We demonstrated that in many ways.

Renee DeSilva 11:58
Your last point on this sort of geo-mapping, I’ve read some of your thinking around that. Oftentimes, we think about zip codes being how we map this. Your team built something that was even more detailed around social vulnerability indexes and used that to guide interventions. Any words that you would say about that, in terms of really how you all thought about that? I think that’s an interesting way to get laser-like focus and figure out where the interventions can lead to the greatest outcomes.

Gene Woods 12:29
Exactly. Well, all of us realized that the public health infrastructure of this country has been significantly under-invested in and it really showed, although public health organizations throughout the country did whatever they could. We weren’t able to get that type of data from public health nor, quite frankly, the state governments and things of that nature to be micro enough for us to be actionable. We had developed over time that capability, made some significant investments in that several years ago. This is really where we were able to use it in a very direct and quick way. It comes to understanding the community. Now the data is one thing, then you’ve got to figure out those communities, the type of relationships that you have. So there’s a group of pastors that have come together in an organization, about 60 different churches. Once we had the data on what neighborhoods were being most affected, then we connected directly with them and formed a partnership in the middle of this that will sustain us going beyond this. We realized that the data is critical and we’re continuing to invest in data capabilities for rapid-cycle deployment on access and health. Those relationships that we built, I think, are as important as anything as well.

Renee DeSilva 13:47
Yeah, such a great example of meeting people where they are and then being able to be quite real-time in terms of the interventions that you deploy. It sounds like for Atrium that translated into closing the gap on testing within black and brown communities and also, I know that you all have done some interesting work around extensions of that. Talk a little bit about how you’re thinking about hospital at home. I was particularly struck by your comment, which I think sometimes gets lost in this dialogue around the urban and rural needs not being that different in terms of access and need for additional resources. Talk about how you’ve thought about some of these broader strategies through that lens.

Gene Woods 14:30
Yeah, well, they say necessity is the mother of invention. Early in the pandemic, everybody was trying to deal with bed capacity issues. When we were thinking about building out a field hospital here, we realized that FEMA had all their resources purportedly diverted at that point to New York and other hotspots. We were climbing but we didn’t have the numbers they did and we realized if we were going to have to build a field hospital basically at a time when personnel was short and PPE was short, we would have to sort of rob Peter to pay Paul. We decided that wasn’t the right approach. I asked a group of our clinicians and administrators to give us some options. That’s when the idea of a hospital at home came. We’ve been invested in telehealth for the last decade, so we had those capabilities. We have a paramedics program here as well and they said, “Well, we use our telehealth capabilities, add some additional monitoring technology, use our paramedics to go into the home for any intervention. We actually can care for people in their homes.” That’s what we did. So far, I think we’ve cared for close to 60,000 people in their homes. If you would have asked me last January that today I could say that, it just wasn’t within the realm of our thinking. The people at home, the last numbers I looked at, about 30% were people of color. That allowed us to cover a much broader geography — rural and urban alike –because we had these capabilities. At one time, just in telehealth, I think we were taking care of about 130,000 visits a month, plus all the work that we were doing from home health. Those are the things that I think are inventions in the middle of this that will serve us going forward. We also, at the time, had a direct conversation with HHS, because they were trying to figure out how they pay this and what does this mean. To their credit, at the time, we explained what we were doing and how it was something that was going to be applicable in the future. I know they’re still working on that, but early on, we received collaboration and understanding that helped us as well.

Renee DeSilva 16:35
I think that’s fantastic. How do you think about that in terms of the voice that you’re bringing to ensuring that there’s equity in broadband and all the other sort of fundamental infrastructure that’s required to deliver that at scale? Do you worry that some of the expansion in telehealth and other remote technologies also could lead to widening the gap in healthcare access?

Gene Woods 16:58
Absolutely. We know that the digital divide has impacted and created unequal access not just in health but in education and so many other ways. Through our government relations program and our advocacy efforts, we are strongly speaking with legislators and the governor. Not too long ago I had a conversation about how we help bridge that divide. Here in the Charlotte area, we worked with the CEOs here from Bank of America, Honeywell, Lowe’s, and others and helped work with the public school district to help close some of that divide. We said, if they don’t have access to school that’s an issue but then the same mechanism doesn’t allow that family to have access to healthcare. I think we’ve made some progress, but I believe there’s a lot more to be done.

Renee DeSilva 17:49
Yes. All right, I want to transition a bit to the board conversation that you hinted at a moment ago. It sounds like you’ve done significant work to ensure that equity and inclusion are embedded into all parts of the enterprise including your board. I also think, and you correct me if I’m not accurate on this, but you also have a committee of the board that is focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion as a standalone committee of the board. Do I have that right?

Gene Woods 18:16
Yes, and that’s one of the components. It’s also social impact and how we’re dealing with the full spectrum of equity, including with our teammates. We had a meeting early last week. We’re very focused appropriately on inequities outside of our walls, but asked the question, “How are our teammates doing?” We are proud of what we’ve done during COVID to embrace them and to make sure they had adequate support and help and things of that nature. But we also realized that many teammates had some challenges with meeting their utilities, housing, transportation, etc. We engaged in an effort and we shared it through the board recently, where we helped solve for them. There’s a lot of community resources that are so hard to access, but they’re there for food and legal support, etc. We took an approach that is not just outside our walls, but let’s make sure that we put our teammates first and take the same sort of approach internally. It’s yielded some positive results early on including on what you just mentioned in terms of digital access. We asked all of our teammates, “Are you having any challenges accessing the internet or having the right equipment?” For those that did, then we were able to intervene directly and specifically to support them.

Renee DeSilva 19:39
Do you find that on the heels of COVID and George Floyd and just maybe more of a shift of a national conversation, people are more willing to engage more directly on these topics? Is the nature of board conversations in your mind beginning to shift? I’d love for you to draw upon not just Atrium’s board, but you also sit on the board of Best Buy. So talk to me a little bit about how you’re seeing the board-level conversation shifting as it relates to equity and inclusion, starting to have some of these harder conversations.

Gene Woods 20:07
To me, that is part of the silver lining of this all. There’s not a board that I serve on, I’m also the chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, there has not been one single board meeting that I’ve attended over this past year where the issue of equity hasn’t come up. Certainly Best Buy, I will tell you, is one of the most diverse Fortune 100 companies right now. The richness of conversation has just been incredible. Best Buy has been very successful in terms of changing the business model and making sure that their customers were taken care of through this COVID thing. For this to be sustainable governance has to play a major role. Before this year, I would say that the approach was fairly uneven. Now I’m encouraged that that conversation is happening at least on the boards that I’ve been involved in. That’s really where sustainable change begins because then the board can hold the management accountable for making significant progress here. If you have structural racism and structural inequities, you have got to fight it with a structural approach. That’s embedded into organizations, including the governance and the administration and how people are incentivized. I am optimistic. There’s a lot of work to be done. I think those conversations can lead to real change.

Renee DeSilva 21:36
I think that’s right. I share the same reflection. Across the Academy, we work with probably 100 health systems and 100 industry companies. This topic is one people want to talk about. They want to engage; they want to figure out how to be allies if maybe they’re not quite sure what that means practically. I too am encouraged by the direction there. I do wonder about the intersection of your military family, multiracial, international roots, leading a health system that has urban components and rural components, how do you think about this notion of meeting all of your stakeholders where they are? When do you think about having a position on things that are happening? When do you think about maybe not having one? I note that being a leader these days, especially with a national platform like your own, creates a little bit of a question around how do you lead from the middle in times that still feel incredibly polarized? How have you approached that?

Gene Woods 22:40
That’s such a good question. Leading from the middle has been very, very challenging at times because you want to have an inclusive orientation, but you also want to call out specifically the things that are not reflective of who we should be as a community and as a nation. I start by giving my background and my experiences. In the past, I wouldn’t even reflect internally on some of the challenges I’ve had with racism and things of that nature. Early on one of my leaders over diversity and inclusion said, “This is your time to speak to the organization from that lens because it will open up the comfort level and create a safe space for others to tell their story.” Probably for the first time in my career, I shared very specifically with the organization some of the things that I’ve dealt with, not because it was about me, but really to say, sometimes you perceive the CEO hasn’t dealt with that, let me share with you those experiences. I also, interestingly, traced some of my family’s roots to slave owners here in North Carolina, just a couple of hours from here. Those stories that you tell have opened up conversations. We also realized that when I first got here in 2016 there was a police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott and there were protests here in Charlotte. I wanted to understand what was underneath some of that. Some communities had felt forgotten. Part of our mission was immediately to engage with those communities. In speaking to that, what I shared is that one of the things I’m proud of as an organization is our values. The values that we live inside of the organization, let’s go ahead and take them outside of the organization as well and model that. During the protests here we were taking care of the victims and those who were protesters but we also were taking care of the police officers who were trying to keep people safe. That balance is important. We’re here for all. The importance of this is to call out the inequities directly when you see it but also reflect that we need not just those people of color, but we need allies supporting us. I will say that the biggest ally I have ever worked with, I’m blessed and fortunate that this is the case, is my board chair Ed Brown who helped Hugh McColl put together Bank of America and also was CEO of Hendrick Motors for the last decade, just retired. He grew up in Savannah, Georgia. I’ve got to tell you, he is such an all-in ally that helps me think about things and pushes the organization to continue to be our very best during these times. With that type of support, there are a lot of opportunities for you to speak to the organization in a very direct way. The thing that helps here is that we’re oriented towards that. We talk about our mission being for all. It’s really what motivates people. There’s not a whole lot of cultural transformation that needs to occur for the teammates here, the 70,000 teammates we have here, to know that this is who they are, this is who they want us to be. I think there is fertile ground to continue to have those types of conversations.

Renee DeSilva 26:08
I think that’s right. I agree about the power of personal storytelling. As leaders, we’ve all been on this journey of being more open to sharing those experiences that shaped how we show up. That’s where you build more trust with people, you get folks wanting to be called in and help be an advocate and problem solver around it. For me, it’s been a journey in terms of my comfort level in speaking my truth and not wanting to or being a little bit sensitive earlier in my career to not yet having the comfort or the confidence in the story that shaped me. I’ve been noting this from a number of our members and broadly that it does make it a lot easier for our team members and colleagues to show up when we’re willing to lead with that.

Gene Woods 27:03
That’s so right. The thing I would add to what you said is that, and I’ve probably had more podcasts on the racial situation than I have had in my entire career, I think people realize, Renee, that at some point people will say, “Okay, where’s the action? What are these stories leading to?” Organizations need to have measurable goals in terms of how to make this difference. The first step is to have these conversations and then you have to have real, meaningful, sustainable action. That’s what we at Atrium are committed to.

Renee DeSilva 27:43
That’s great. All right, I want to change gears slightly and go back to lessons that you have picked up from serving on Best Buy’s board. Coming out of COVID, most organizations that we speak to are looking to be easier for a consumer to access. The consumer expectation around the ease at which they are able, ease and maybe preference, on how we access all other parts of our experience. Oftentimes healthcare does not meet that bar. So talk a little bit around how the consumer products world that Best Buy lives in, the omnichannel approach that they’ve had to embrace, what are you picking up from those conversations that applies to healthcare?

Gene Woods 28:25
Yeah, first of all, with a company like Best Buy I’ve been impressed by how they managed through this pandemic. You highlighted that there are a lot of lessons that I bring back to our organization. You highlighted the omnichannel approach. It’s not just about online, but it’s having the right brick and mortar in the right areas because a lot of times that’s how you define part of your brand. With healthcare, we’ve been, as a field, a bit slow in the online version of the digital part of it. It’s important to recognize as we continue to do telehealth and other things, advances in the field on that end, we still are going to need other access points, both fixed access points and also mobile access points. That made it work very, very well. I think Best Buy also has an obsessive customer orientation. They journey map just about every experience that a customer has. There are more opportunities for us in healthcare to do just that — to put ourselves in the shoes of a patient/customer/consumer and say, “Where are the barriers from the time that somebody is concerned that they may have cancer to the time that they contact a hospital or physician office, all the way through?” This obsessive consumer or customer orientation is something that we can all learn from a company like Best Buy. The ability to leverage capabilities and expand them. Geek Squad is well known within Best Buy. They come into your home and they help you with hooking up computers. I use them often for my 80-year-old mom who lives outside of Philadelphia. When you think about care at home, well, the Geek Squad who are trusted, they’re trained, and they gained the confidence, well, how about we use them to also help with some of the healthcare that’s needed at home and working in partnership with others? Leveraging those existing assets, but expanding the concept are some of the things that I’ve taken away from my experience with Best Buy.

Renee DeSilva 30:34
I think the Geek Squad is a great example. What struck me about that was also this extension of their capabilities. Best Buy is using that as a way to even break into a new space. As part of their own company’s transformation, I thought that was a really interesting pivot in terms of how they approach that.

Gene Woods 30:51
It really is. The other thing, we’re in communities through Best Buy’s teen tech centers. I remember being in one in Minneapolis. You have these tech centers for kids who are in high school and they bring them in. I remember one young man was a musician. He was learning technology by doing his video and things of that nature. The engagement of teenagers in vulnerable communities and exposing them to other things then leveraging that as part of the workforce of the future. That’s another thing that I appreciate about the mission of Best Buy. You think of them as a consumer electronics company, etc., but they understand the impact that they can have on communities because they’re in about every community in the country.

Renee DeSilva 31:41
That’s powerful. The workforce development angle is really powerful, in terms of broadening the pool of competent workers that we all can draw from. That’s great. Is there anything around governance best practices that you note in corporate boards that would be relevant for health systems? Is there anything different in those settings that you’ve tried to transport back to your organization?

Gene Woods 32:03
The one thing that comes to mind, at least through the Best Buy lens, and what I try to do more at the Feds is creating more time for blue sky conversations. We recently had some conversations on social impact. Sometimes we have so much going on in our health systems that we don’t allow enough time for those conversations. It’s in that sense that you also learn and educate and come up with something collectively that you might not as individual members. That’s the thing that comes to mind initially. There’s some intentionality around that that I’ve used in our system as well.

Renee DeSilva 32:41
Perfect. All right, a final question to wrap up. The naming of this podcast, The Academy Table was meant to denote two things. One, the power of getting different voices in the conversation. I think that can be transformative to our industry. When I think about some of the most positive experiences for me, it’s usually around a table with people that I care about. There is usually some great food and wine on the table. I think we’re all looking forward to getting back to that time. Think about if you were curating your ideal table and you could invite any two people to that conversation, who would you choose and why?

Gene Woods 33:15
Hmm, that’s an interesting question. For some reason, one that comes to mind is Stevie Wonder. I’m a musician myself and feel like I grew up with him as part of the family. Not just an amazing musician, but he, like Marvin Gaye and others, really use that musical platform to talk about larger societal issues. I remember when Martin Luther King’s birthday became a national holiday and how much he worked on that. James Brown also worked on that. Stevie Wonder is somebody. I have had the chance to meet him a couple of times. He is, from that perspective, somebody who I’ve always felt was phenomenal at what he did but also used his platform for a good purpose. We just lost John Lewis. He’d be the other one that I would want to spend time with because he devoted his whole life to the cause if you will. He was all in. He was not embittered by the battle. He was such a gentle soul and lived by example. It’s such a sad thing to have lost him but I think the legacy and what he represented, especially during these times, lives on. I would want to ask him questions and learn more about how he came to do the things that he did. Those would be the two that come to mind.

Renee DeSilva 34:39
That’s a great table. Now I have to ask since you mentioned your musician roots and meeting Stevie Wonder. Did you get a chance to play at all with him? What is your instrument?

Gene Woods 34:49
My instrument is guitar and I’ve written music for the last 30 years and am recording an album as we speak of songs that I’ve written. No, I never got a chance to play with Stevie. In the band that I currently have I have pretty notable figures including a trombone player who ran James Brown’s band for a decade before he passed. I’ve got some really good players with me. We’ve talked a lot about the mental health of our community and our teammates and employees this past year for good reasons. Leaders need to find what gives them balance too. That’s been part of what I’ve shared with my colleagues. Music is what gets me away from things and allows me to get some joy and peace if you will. I share that whether you’re an artist or whatever you do, that leaders should embrace that artistic or creative side of themselves to bring balance. It makes you a better leader overall. That’s how, whenever I get a moment here or there, I spend my time.

Renee DeSilva 35:58
That’s fantastic and impressive with all that you’ve got going on and the life that you lead that you carve out the space to write an album. I look forward to learning more about that. I’ve got to find what my talent is. I don’t know if bad karaoke would count in that.

Gene Woods 36:14
There’s no judgment on what that is. It’s whatever brings sheer happiness.

Renee DeSilva 36:19
All right, you don’t have to be good at it. You just have to practice it.

Gene Woods 36:22

Renee DeSilva 36:24
Fair enough. Well, thank you, Gene. Such a pleasure to catch up with you today. I really appreciate you joining us.

Gene Woods 36:28
Thanks for that. I’ve appreciated it as well.

Renee DeSilva 36:31
Thanks again for joining me at The Table. The Table is a podcast produced by the Health Management Academy. Make sure you catch future episodes by visiting our website or by subscribing on the podcast platform of your choice. If you have suggestions for topics or guests, I’d love to hear from you. Please drop me a note at I look forward to talking with you soon.