Yousuf (MHA ’02) leads Bon Secours in Richmond region

Although COVID-19 has had its share of tragedies and challenges, Faraaz Yousuf, President of Bon Secours Richmond, (MHA ’02) notes, “there also were great, defining moments for the healthcare community.”  

“Early on, when we were faced with a highly infectious, novel disease, supply chain unknowns, and a fragile economy, we put aside competition with leaders at VCU Health and HCA Virginia, and collaborated,” he says. The shared goal was to do what was best for the community and stay in front of this pandemic. “We said we needed to work together to ensure our policies and procedures surrounding supply chain, patient care, and associate safety are in sync,” Yousuf recalls. “It was a great moment of understanding between leaders of competing organizations.”

Today, under Yousuf’s leadership, the faith-based health system is expanding across Virginia, covering a geographic footprint the size of New Jersey. In Central Virginia, the “crown jewel” region of Bon Secours Mercy Health, Yousuf is overseeing expansions of hospitals and ambulatory care centers, increasing access to the greater community.

The healthcare landscape is rapidly changing, as more companies allow for hybrid work models. Quality and accessibility are key to new growth. And telehealth has the potential to serve more remote localities with the same level of care patients receive in more urban areas.  

“We are constantly working to give our patients the accessibility they want without compromising the quality healthcare that they are accustomed to at Bon Secours,” he says. But broadband issues and patient access to digital media can sometimes work against this growth. That’s why Yousuf believes in strong relationships with government leaders. “We work very closely with our municipal leadership, and they too are invested in making sure that healthcare services in our community are robust,” he says. 

Growth does not always mean physical buildings and expansions. Though not new, telehealth’s use skyrocketed during the pandemic. “It forced leaders to explore how we evolve the healthcare landscape by providing consumers with what they want, where they want it, and when they need it,” Yousuf says.

He believes the focus should not only be on delivery and cost of healthcare, but also the social determinants of health. “We need to be sure we are investing in job creation, food access, education, and affordable housing,” Yousuf says.

In Richmond’s East End, for example, Bon Secours has deployed grants to small businesses and encourages associates to use them. “Building partnerships with local businesses and committing to shop local is another important step in helping to improve the overall health of our communities,” Yousuf says. “That should be our goal as healthcare leaders.”

On his career choice:

Yousuf grew up in a family of care providers. “I knew I didn’t want to be a physician,” he says. As a high schooler, he volunteered at Inova Fairfax Hospital, cleaning common areas and delivering newspapers and magazines to patients. “I had to go up into the ICU, and although I struggled with seeing patient grief and suffering, I knew I still wanted to be in that healthcare space and make a difference,” he says. The highly respected Ken White, RN, Ph.D., FACHE, who led VCU Health Administration for 14 years, helped the young Yousuf build a compelling vision for his future: “How do you create value? How do you serve the patient from the seat of healthcare leadership?”

On the MHA program:

Yousuf credits both the third-year structured residency and the alumni network for his success. “We have a lot of illustrious alumni that have graduated from the program,” he says. “If a young student ever reaches out, we're always willing to connect, to pick up the phone, and to help guide people through their journey.”

The journey that began at VCU took him to the C-suite, he notes, but may lead elsewhere for other grads. “Be open minded and explore opportunities. The healthcare landscape is evolving,” he says. “The idea used to be that health administration only consisted of hospital presidents and CEOs. But that’s not the case anymore. There's so much diversity and opportunity in healthcare.”

Though, to be sure, he’s thrilled he landed where he did.

“To be in this role, and leading a team in this organization, it’s one of those things as a young administrator that I could only hope for,” he said. “Even through the challenges of the past couple of years, I am grateful daily for this job.”

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