The Martin File
- Executive director, ASHE, Chicago.
- Deputy executive director, ASHE.
- Director of operations, ASHE.
- Certified Association Executive.
- American Society of Association Executives member.
- Past chair of Public Relations Society of America’s Association Nonprofit Section.
- Public Relations Society of America past conference speaker.
- Master of Science in Public Service Management, DePaul University, Chicago.
- Bachelor of Science in news-editorial journalism, West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.V.
- Bachelor of Arts in political science, West Virginia University.
Deanna Martin, executive director of the American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE), a professional membership group of the American Hospital Association (AHA), stepped into her new role during the COVID-19 pandemic. This month, she talks to Health Facilities Management about serving members during crises and at other times.
How have your previous roles prepared you for this new leadership position?
Many ASHE members say they “just stumbled upon” health care facility management — that it wasn’t a career path they thought about in high school or college, but once they realized the opportunity, they found the work challenging and rewarding. My journey with ASHE is similar in that I knew little of health care facility management when I first joined the organization in 2011 in a communications role (prior to joining ASHE, I was a news reporter covering state government). In my first role with ASHE, I was charged with telling the stories of members, spreading the word about advocacy initiatives, and promoting regulatory changes that would reduce code conflicts and regulatory burden. The work was challenging, rewarding and fun, and I enjoyed working with ASHE members to help solve problems they faced.
Over time, I took on additional responsibilities, overseeing publications, marketing, communications, membership and operations. These roles helped me learn more about members’ needs as well as about internal operations. It also gave me the opportunity to implement new initiatives to continually improve the organization. Most recently, I served as deputy executive director of operations, a role that gave me experience overseeing day-to-day operations while working closely with the ASHE Board and other leaders at the AHA. All of these roles — plus my time learning from my mentors, former ASHE Executive Director PJ Andrus and AHA Vice President for Professional Membership Groups Dale Woodin — helped prepare me for executive director. My new role, like my previous roles at ASHE, is fun, challenging and rewarding. I feel very fortunate to have “stumbled upon” ASHE, and I am proud to lead an organization made up of amazing members doing important work.
What are some of the ways you’ve seen ASHE evolve since joining the team?
ASHE has grown over the last decade in terms of membership numbers (we’re at nearly 13,000 members now, compared to about 10,000 members 10 years ago). Our membership base has increased in large part because the ASHE Board and leadership have done a great job of setting priorities that are relevant to members. ASHE has been keenly focused on value — making sure members are getting a great bang for their membership buck.
For example, we’ve added On Demand resources so members can access webinar recordings, conference presentations and quick training for free at any time. We’ve created new online education and expanded our in-person education. We’ve grown our advocacy team to help push for better codes and standards. We launched the My ASHE online community to give members a place to connect and find solutions. And we created the Certified Health Care Physical Environment Worker credential to help members ensure that contractors and other workers in their facilities understand the unique nature of health care spaces. We don’t do all of these things just to meet key performance measures. We do them because they serve our members and help to optimize the physical environment.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing ASHE members today?
This year we are experiencing the COVID-19 crisis, one of the biggest health challenges in our lifetimes. The response from ASHE members has been nothing short of heroic. Our members are working tirelessly and creatively to provide additional treatment spaces and maintain safe and effective environments for patients and staff. I am in awe of the tremendous work our members are doing every day.
The COVID-19 crisis is certainly top of mind and will be a priority for the foreseeable future as our nation and health care system works to recover and rebuild. We know members also face numerous challenges that were present before the pandemic, including career development, succession planning, professional development, the regulatory environment and operational efficiency. ASHE is committed to helping members with the challenges they face both today and in the future.
How is ASHE addressing these challenges to help members succeed?
Like our members, ASHE must remain nimble to adjust our strategies and respond as our environment changes. COVID-19 is a prime example of this. When the pandemic hit, we reacted quickly to produce resources for members. Volunteer members and ASHE staff worked around the clock to create guidance, tools, webinars and other resources. Our advocacy team worked with regulatory agencies and accrediting organizations to provide regulatory relief. The team also worked with other AHA advocacy leaders to support additional funding for hospitals during the crisis. Under the leadership of ASHE President Jeffrey E. Henne, FASHE, CHSP-FSM, CHEP, CHC, our Board started meeting virtually to set the strategic direction of the organization through the crisis. Because of travel restrictions, we had to cancel our International Summit & Exhibition on Health Facility Planning, Design & Construction in March and instead created a series of webinars on planning, design and construction issues to provide members information on those topics. All of these efforts are great examples of teamwork toward the common goal of helping our members through this pandemic.
In addition to the work on COVID-19 challenges, ASHE continues to work on other resources for members through our strategic plan. ASHE’s Board creates a strategic plan every three years that outlines goals for the organization — goals related to the challenges our members are facing. We are currently working on three strategic imperatives: professional reputation, career development and operational excellence.
The professional reputation imperative aims to ensure ASHE members are recognized and valued as trusted professionals. The career development imperative is focused on increasing awareness of health care facility management as a diverse field with viable career growth. Finally, the strategic imperative on operational excellence is focused on ensuring that facilities will be run at optimal cost effectiveness from conceptual design to the end of their useful lives. More information about each of these imperatives, as well as the entire strategic plan, is available on the ASHE website.
How is ASHE addressing member needs in a quickly evolving field?
Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, health care was a rapidly changing field. The crisis created even more change at an even more rapid pace, with information and plans changing by the week, day and even the hour. Whatever the future holds for health care, ASHE leaders remain committed to meet the needs of members — even if those needs change rapidly. We may need to shift gears quickly as the road ahead changes, but it’s important to remember we have a guidepost that remains constant: our mission of optimizing the health care environment.
ASHE members can also help us help them by offering suggestions and ideas that would help them navigate both the daily and unique challenges facing health care facilities. We want to hear from our members to make sure we are addressing their needs, and I encourage them to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing our members’ feedback and working together as we all strive toward a common goal.