Health Care and Human Resources

Q&A: Tina Freese Decker

March 21, 2017
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Tina Freese Decker
Tina Freese Decker. Courtesy Spectrum Health

Editor’s note: Each Q&A in the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a woman from the region who’s influential, a rising face in her industry or doing interesting work. Submit tips on potential Q&A subjects to tgortsema at grbj dot com.

Tina Freese Decker is the president of Spectrum Health Hospital Group, where she’s responsible for the successful operation of 12 hospitals and 170 care and service sites.

Her experience in both operational and strategic roles and oversight of a variety of care settings has enabled her to hone skills as a seasoned systems thinker.

As an industrial engineer, she has a unique perspective, combining strategic thinking with operational improvement and human factors training to ensure the organization is implementing sustainable and scalable improvements.

Biggest career break?

I joined Spectrum Health in 2002 as a post-graduate fellow in health care administration and then was asked to become a director. From that point forward, I made purposeful decisions to accept positions that provided me with not only greater responsibility, but also opportunities to learn critical areas of the health system — from strategic planning to serving as a hospital president to now leading the entire group of 12 hospitals and ancillary services.

Proudest moment?

Professionally, I’m most proud when I see team members achieve success and gain a feeling of accomplishment. The people who work in our Core Health program, for example, are having a positive and meaningful effect on the lives of our clients. At home, I’m most proud when my kids first figure out they can “do it” — whether it’s performing a gymnastics routine, running a race or swimming the length of the pool. It’s that same understanding that they have accomplished something great.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

Trust your instincts. Believe in yourself and surround yourself with smart and talented people. Stay positive and optimistic, always believing that you can achieve your goals. You can and you will.

How did you make your first dollar?

I worked as a cook at Pizza Hut. That’s probably one of the reasons why I don’t like to cook now!

Most-treasured possession?

My family says it’s my iPad. I do enjoy and appreciate technology but also enjoy reading an actual book.

Dream job?

I’m in it right now. Every day, I work with people to make a difference in the lives of others. I also enjoy developing new solutions to make it easier to access health care.

If I were president for a day, I would…?

Continue the conversation about health care access and affordability, keeping the focus on patients, not on politics

Last book you read?

American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company,” by Bryce G. Hoffman

Last thing you Googled?

TAVR procedure. It stands for transcatheter aortic valve replacement, which is a minimally invasive heart valve replacement surgery that is being done here at Spectrum Health.

Your worst habit?

Eating chocolate

To unwind I like to…?

I spend time with my husband and kids. We play games and go on walks.

Dream vacation?

I’ve always wanted to visit Spain. I’m learning to speak Spanish with my kids, and I would like to experience the culture with them.

Favorite food?

Chocolate. On a healthier front, I also enjoy kiwi and pineapple.

Person you most admire?

My dad. He is an entrepreneur and developed his own company. When trends and technology have impacted his business, he has re-invented himself. His passion for his work is contagious and commendable.  

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