Deborah Sanford, RN, MSN, MBA, Baldrige Executive Fellow

Function in the hospital: As vice president and chief nursing officer, Deborah Sanford, RN, MS, MBA, Baldrige Executive Fellow, is responsible for overseeing EMMC’s nursing department, managing its daily operations, and ensuring alignment with the mission, vision, and values of Eastern Maine Medical Center and its parent company, EMHS. In this role, Deb also maintains compliance with government and facility regulations, and ensures EMMC’s nurses and others are current with requirements. You will also frequently find Deb working alongside nurses in EMMC’s emergency department, or rolling up her sleeves to help the front line staff where ever she may be needed. Says Deb, “Nursing has been good to me, I’ve had incredible opportunities because of the career choice I made, and I am fortunate to be working with great people, combining the knowledge I’ve gained through collaborative work across our system with my passion for patient care.”

The road to here: Deb graduated from Binghamton University in 1985 and began her nursing career at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York. She earned an MBA from the University of Rochester, Simon School of business in 1988, and headed to Manhattan to work at Morgan Stanley as an analysis in their Collateral Mortgage Obligations desk. Her calling back to healthcare came in early 1991, after the birth of her second child, so she and her family returned to Rochester, where she became a nurse leader at Strong Memorial and earned a master’s in nursing from St. John Fisher College in 1996.  She arrived in Maine in November 1996, joining EMHS as director of Medical Informatics, focusing on providing regional access to electronic medical records. In 2002, she moved to Eastern Maine Medical Center, a member of EMHS, as a patient care administrator, focusing on imaging, vascular, sleep and neurology services. In the intervening years, Deb’s administrative responsibilities grew to include, adult and pediatric intensive care, critical care transport, pulmonary and respiratory medicine, respiratory therapy, surgical services, and women’s and children’s services. Then, in 2010, Deb was asked to join the Acadia Hospital as the vice president of patient care services and compliance officer. Acadia is a freestanding behavioral health hospital under the EMHS umbrella. At Acadia, Deb was responsible for the administrative operations of inpatient and outpatient care, nutrition services, pharmacy, and quality and risk management. Deb returned to EMHS in 2012 as vice president of Organizational Effectiveness, where she was responsible for business intelligence, providing internal analytic and consulting expertise, coordination of external consulting services, and executing system strategies around culture change and business transformation.  She accepted her current position with EMMC in January of 2015.

Deb also has a strong commitment to community service. She has served as campaign chair for the United Way of Eastern Maine, chair of the Ronald McDonald House of Bangor, and secretary of the Rotary Club in Bangor. She has been active on many other local boards and committees.

What she’s trying to do: As EMMC’s chief nursing officer, Deb is working with staff and nurse leaders to build the trust and engagement necessary to meet and exceed patient expectations. “As we focus on the needs of our patients and community, we also must challenge ourselves to embrace flexibility, improve work-life balance, and ensure patients are at the heart of all of our discussions.”

Guiding principle: Deb’s guiding principle is to, “Always appreciate what you have and provide to others in need, since there is always someone in greater need than you.”

Proudest accomplishments: Deb is quick to say her proudest accomplishment in life is the job she and her husband did raising their children, Ashley and Jeff. And while there are numerous events and milestones of which Deb is proud, she exceptionally pleased to have been recognized by her peers at Strong Memorial with the Nursing Exemplar Award for Living.