“I take very seriously my responsibility to create an environment that I’d want my mother or my sister or father to be in,” says Linda Espinosa, VP of Patient Care Services and Nursing at the Westchester hub of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in White Plains. A noble goal, yes—and Espinosa has an uncanny ability to keep a staff of over 800 motivated towards that very same goal.
“Linda cares and it shows,” says Barbara Waltman, director of Social Work. Her colleague Ruth Mendelowitz, director of Access Services, agrees, saying she “encourages open dialogue and makes it comfortable to exchange ideas and be innovative. She will always carefully listen and, even if she may disagree, she is clearly interested in hearing the staff’s perspective.”
Espinosa says that “to have good patient outcomes and good patient care, you have to have a satisfied, engaged staff.” She measures satisfaction through an employee opinion survey, in which 91 percent of her staff say they’re happy.
But she measures it in other ways, like during “Coffee with Linda,” a drop-in hour she holds periodically when staff members come by to chat informally about what’s going well and what’s not. Town halls, with similar objectives, are a staple. And, most telling, Espinosa makes a point to meet regularly with night staff—too often neglected in hospitals—at 7 am meetings.
“She motivates and inspires us to strive for excellence,” says Waltman. “She leads by example.” She cited a recent exercise led by Espinosa during which everyone was expected to make a personal statement of commitment to self-improvement and, in hopes it would trickle down, the improvement of people they work with. “The first person who presented was Linda,” says Waltman. “She doesn’t hold herself apart.”