Inspiring Success

Up Close | Dana Nicholson Bledsoe

It is one of the crown jewels of the healthcare industry that is burgeoning in Central Florida, Nemours Children’s Hospital in Lake Nona. With world renowned pediatric specialists, a network of fourteen pediatric primary care locations, seven urgent care centers, along with Nemours’ physicians serving at four regional hospitals, they bring the vast resources of a leading national children’s health system to provide well - and sick-childcare, along with chronic condition management.

President, Nemours Children’s Hospital, Orlando

It is one of the crown jewels of the healthcare industry that is burgeoning in Central Florida, Nemours Children’s Hospital in Lake Nona. With world renowned pediatric specialists, a network of fourteen pediatric primary care locations, seven urgent care centers, along with Nemours’ physicians serving at four regional hospitals, they bring the vast resources of a leading national children’s health system to provide well – and sick-childcare, along with chronic condition management. For almost a year, Dana Bledsoe has been president of the Children’s Hospital, having previously served as president of the Children’s and Women’s Hospital, which is part of the Sacred Heart Health System in Pensacola, Florida. With a focus on “building and expanding” their reach, Bledsoe continues to drive the delivery of cutting edge innovation in a family-centric environment.


When I was preparing to go back to graduate school, I felt I could impact more children and families if I went into the administrative side of healthcare, especially with my clinical background. There were times when I was working nights and I thought, ‘Surely if they were in my position they would approach this much differently.’ I don’t assume people think I get it right all the time, but I do have an understanding others, who have never been bedside, may not share. I continued with clinical responsibilities early in my administrative career, but being a practitioner is so complex and is changing so rapidly, I wasn’t able to hold on to both. I miss the instant gratification of the responses you get from children; they are so resilient. Management and leadership have great rewards, but the gratification doesn’t come as quickly.


It is our clinicians who deliver the mission. My role is to remove impediments; to ask how we can make their lives easier so they can take care of children and families. But not only has having experience as a clinician informed my work, perhaps more importantly as a mom with a child in the system has been illuminating. I get to see the system from a parent’s perspective, which is much different than even a patient’s perspective.

Nemours’ philosophy is focused on children (patient) and family centered care. This means the patient and family are part of the team; they are integral to the delivery and the outcomes of the care. When you live that as a parent it helps inform everyone who is part of the clinical team from physicians, to nurses, to respiratory therapists. We all have a unique view when developing a model of care. But no one knows the child like the parents, no matter what. If a parent tells you there is something wrong, they might not know what is wrong, but there is definitely something wrong. We want families involved in developing the plan of care.


I suppose what I love most about my job is the opportunity to work with these incredible, world class clinical leaders who are shaping and changing the field. We are taking the Nemours’ philosophy of care and expanding way beyond where it has been. It was that impact that drew me here.

I had opportunities to work with Nemours over the last four years, so I got to know the leadership and was extremely impressed from the outset, not only with the caliber of the people, but the Nemours’ culture and approach to care. The culture is, as most people know, one of extraordinary talent, which I find humbling. But also Nemours has certain standards of behavior, which are principles and guidelines in how all the organization conducts our business, that we all are accountable and aligned with. Like our strategic direction, which we call “True North,” this is something everyone talks about, especially with their actions. It cascades through the organization.


We are an integrated network of care, which by design is moving away from volume to value. This translates into lower costs with higher outcomes. We know that it is less expensive to provide care at the local community level; it is also less stressful on the family. We provide the highest level of care at the hospital; if there is a need we can transfer them here. In the community, Internet technology enables patients to have FaceTime interviews with a subspecialist here. Also, this enables a physician in one of our clinics or partner hospitals to get second opinions with one of
the physicians through a video link.

Nemours is fully integrated with its medical records, so that any physician in the network can access the patient’s information, which is essential in diagnosis and treatment delivery; patients also have direct access through MyNemours. CareConnect allows families to connect with a Nemours doctor 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through the Internet or a mobile application and the specialist can actually see and interface with the patient for just $49. These are fastly becoming the healthcare delivery vehicles of the future. My son was hurt recently; it was 10 at night and I didn’t want to go to the emergency room. So we used our app and we had our appointment with the doctor on my mobile device. I could pick the doctor, if I needed a prescription they call that in; then they do a follow-up call the next day. We launched this last fall; we were first with the virtual visit, accessible from virtually anywhere. Also Nemours has the most visited sight on children’s health, (health.org), in the world, over a million visits a week,though it isn’t exclusively branded to Nemours.


Having a pediatric academic medical center in Central Florida brings a unique community asset. We have just over two hundred and fifty employed physicians; of those, over one hundred are on faculty at UCF. That helps create the future of children’s healthcare in the region. We have treated children from every state and over sixty foreign countries in the three and half years we have been open. That has a halo effect on the region; people come for the care, but they also learn more about the region. Just recently we had families from Australia and Peru, who researched and found us, but as a result they also find the other assets of the region.

As Nemours has established itself here, we have found that much of our recruitment is coming from our physicians; they know who they would like for colleagues. Not only are we looking for brilliant physicians, we are looking for physicians that match our culture. It is our physicians who can be the most effective on both fronts. Our physicians and those in our leadership positions are interviewed by families, just like families were involved in the design of our facility. At Nemours, they will always have a significant voice.

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