“Are you Richard Patterson’s son?”
This has become a reoccurring theme across Sean Patterson’s career. The new chief operating officer at TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center is happy to follow in the family footsteps as a healthcare administrator.
Sean’s father, Richard Patterson, began his career with HCA as an assistant controller in 1983. Richard’s proven leadership ability had him traveling around the country to pursue growth opportunities.
Before retiring this June, Richard had served as the chief financial officer for TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital since 2010. Richard has left a lasting legacy not only at his hospital and HCA, but on healthcare workers across the nation.
Sean has spent the past few months reflecting on his own career path and his father’s 33 years with HCA.
“My dad had been in healthcare administration all of my life and I grew up listening to his experiences. I wanted to follow and emulate him,” said Sean. “Growing up, I had asked him if I could get a summer job at the hospital he worked at and he had told me that I was not able to due to nepotism.”
After completing his Master of Health Administration from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY, and fellowship at St. Mary’s Health System in Edwardsville, IN, Sean accepted a position at HCA in performance improvement.
“When I started my career with HCA, I began to learn that a lot of people were related to each other and that there were family members that worked within the company,” said Sean. “I asked my dad why he said I could not work with him before. He said ‘Sean, you needed to earn it and learn it on your own.””
On Sean’s first day with HCA, he flew to Florida to meet with a hospital’s leadership team. It was the first time he heard the question “Are you Richard Patterson’s son?”
Since then, this question has never gotten old.
“When you’re following the path of a relative, you are in their shadow. But, it’s a good thing,” said Sean. “Naturally, people will compare me and I want to be compared to him. I want to be just like my dad.”
Sean was accepted into HCA’s Leadership and Development Program where he took on the role of the associate chief operating officer for TriStar Skyline Medical Center in 2014.
During Sean’s interview at TriStar Skyline, he learned that the chief executive officer, Steve Otto, and his father have been close colleagues since they both began their careers with HCA around the same time.
Sean recalled Steve mentioning how fascinating it is to work for an organization and see the people he worked with in the beginning have the ability to watch their children grow up, being in the positions that they are in now.
For Sean, the best thing about working at the same company as his father was getting to see him at work.
“When I was little, dad coming home wasn’t dad in a suit and even to this day, it was odd to see him as a CFO because he does such a good job at work-life balance,” said Sean. “One thing my dad has always been great at is never letting his work impact his ability to be there for his kids.”
Sean also admires his father’s niche for adding a personal, small-town feel at the hospitals that he served.
“My dad put helping people and getting to know them first. This speaks volumes on him as a person,” said Sean. “We’re all human. We all have families. You do not have to be 100% work at work. Healthcare is personal.”
Sean gave a tribute to Richard being a servant leader on his father’s last day before retirement, allowing coworkers to reflect on why they choose to wake up every day and make an impact at their hospital.
Healthcare is a personal calling — a true mission.
“Now it’s my turn to leave a lasting impression on the company that was so good to my father,” said Sean.