Leelee Thames, MD, was placed as the inaugural chief value officer for New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina. New Hanover is a public, not-for-profit teaching hospital and regional referral center that serves as the tertiary care center for a seven-county area. It is the ninth-largest healthcare system in the state, with 855 licensed beds, 6,000 employees, and 560 physicians. NHRMC's programs and services are often recognized for the level of care they provide and the standards they set for similar programs across the state and country; the system includes one of ten trauma centers in the state certified at Level II or above, and has received an "A" grade from The Leapfrog Group for its commitment to safety. In her role, Dr. Thames will work closely with government agencies and insurance companies to ensure that patients receive the necessary preventative care to prevent hospitalization, and will ensure that discharged patients receive the care they need to prevent readmissions – all in service of New Hanover's payor strategy to advance care while controlling costs.
Dr. Thames comes to New Hanover from Steward Health Care Network in Phoenix, Arizona, where she served as national chief medical officer for health plans and the network's MSO. Steward is the largest private, for-profit hospital operator in the country, with 36 community hospitals across nine states and the country of Malta representing over 7,900 managed beds. There, Dr. Thames developed healthcare strategies, built a sustainable infrastructure and programs, and assimilated several independent clinical teams, while operationalizing utilization management, case management, care coordination, complex disease management, quality, pharmacy, dental, medical policy, and population health programs to ensure clinical excellence. Instrumental in making the organization more data-driven, she implemented a new quality performance platform and created an environment in which utilization and outcomes data drove how new programs were built. In addition, as the national physician leader, Dr. Thames managed the physician leaders of the local health plans and their teams, increasing transparency relative to performance and recruiting subject matter experts to ensure operational efficiency and new initiatives.
Dr. Thames previously served as the medical director of quality and government programs for Moda Health Plan in Portland, Oregon; she has also held consulting roles with the Oregon Medical Board, AllMed Healthcare Management in Portland, and Adventist Health System in California. A board-certified anesthesiologist, Dr. Thames began her career as a clinician. She is a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, for which she serves on the Political Action Committee, and is a Fellow of America's Health Insurance Plans.
Dr. Thames earned her bachelor's degree in biology from Baylor University, her MD from Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, and her MBA from the University of Tennessee. She and her husband, who is an endodontist, are the parents of a young son. Outside of work, Dr. Thames enjoys tandem biking and is an avid runner.
Quick Leonard Kieffer's Jake Barto led the search to recruit Dr. Thames to New Hanover.