Meet & Greet with MultiCare’s Alex Jackson
~May 5th, 2022
Alex Jackson has stepped into his new position as chief executive and senior vice president for MultiCare Health System’s Inland Northwest Region. He has taken the helm from Dr. David O’Brien, who is now chief executive for MultiCare’s South Sound Region, in Tacoma, Wash.
In his new role, Jackson will oversee MultiCare Deaconess and Valley hospitals, in addition to continuing to lead MultiCare Rockwood Clinic.
Jackson grew up in Missoula, Montana, and brings with him 25 years of experience working in health care administration. He joined MultiCare in 2018 as the chief operating officer for MultiCare Rockwood Clinic, where he served in that position for two years before also being appointed president of MultiCare Rockwood Clinic in 2020, where he served for another two years.
In Spokane, Jackson’s career in health care administration also includes four years as the chief executive for Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Providence Holy Family Hospital.
The Journal sat down with Jackson recently to discuss his new role and what he wishes to accomplish.
Before moving to Spokane, you spent 16 years in Portland, Oregon. How is that transition to a midsize city?
It’s a great-sized community. We have world-class things that happen in Spokane, but we don’t have world-class one-hour commutes. I love that.
The easy assumption is that it’s a smaller city so it might not be as good, but in reality, if you look at patient experience and outcomes, Spokane has national class talent here with great services and programs. That’s one of the things I like about Spokane, real people caring for real people.
Because we are on the edge of rural America as well, we are able to care for people from rural America. I think that’s exciting. It enables us to bring talent and resources and people to this market, because it’s not just the 500,000 people in Spokane, but probably a million people if we were to draw a 200-mile radius around us.
What brought you to health care administration?
You can see the smile on my face. I love health care. I think it’s really the ultimate industry. I’ve been doing this for about 25 years, and the thing that I continue to remind myself is that it’s a privilege and honor and responsibility to care for people. We are a people industry caring for people. I think the special privilege and responsibility of that is we are caring for people on the best days of their lives. I am a father, and the birth of my sons mark the best days of my life.
We also have a chance to care for people and families in tough moments. In those bright moments and tough moments, I hope patients and families see our commitment to excellence and respect. Beyond that, I love people. This is a people industry. We have 3,900 employees, it’s the ultimate team industry.
In health care, too, we have some of the most passionate people. How do things get done in America? It’s passionate people, and in health care we’re so blessed to have passionate people.
How does your position as MultiCare regional chief executive differ from Rockwood president and chief operating officer?
I went from a place where I was accountable for and responsible for 300 providers and physicians and 1,000 employees at Rockwood Clinic, to now Rockwood and two great hospitals, Deaconess and Valley as well.
One of the things I think about as I transition into this job is the way Dr. David O’Brien did an incredible job of bringing the MultiCare mission—partnering for a healing and healthy future in the Spokane region, bringing our mission and values to Spokane. I’m taking that torch from Dr. O’Brien and its one of the pieces I’m most passionate and excited about.
Financially, I also assume all of Dr. O’Brien’s accounting responsibilities. Being leaders, we have to develop skills in a variety of areas. Luckily, we have some talented finance folks who we can work with well. I have to be ready to lean into those moments. For most health care organizations, including us, this was a financially difficult start to the year, but we are bouncing back well.
What projects do you have in mind to continue that mission?
Being mission-driven is big. I think the other piece that we’ve been focused on is how to further improve access to care.
Some of what I see in Spokane compels us even more. Spokane is growing. The entire country is aging. Today, 10,000 people will turn 65 years old, and tomorrow, another 10,000 will turn 65. We know as people get older, there’s a chance they need more health care. So that compels us to have more access.
We just expanded one of our highest-demand primary health clinics, Quail Run on the South Hill. A couple of months ago, we added more exam rooms, providers, physicians, and space. That space is filling up fast. It gives us the capability to care for more existing patients.
We are also looking to build another primary health clinic in Spokane as well. Again, we want to make sure we are taking care of existing people already living in Spokane who need care, but also the population growth that we know is already happening in Spokane and will continue to happen.
Do you imagine staying in this position through retirement?
I love my time with MultiCare. I love the people. The passionate people committed to do better next month than last month. That’s the work that fulfills me. I’m not worried about the next job. There’s enough stuff to do here and help us grow to be our best for our people who work for us and for the community. I think there’s a lot of stuff to do, and I’m excited.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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