Ike Mmeje, MHSA, joined Keck Medicine of USC in March 2023 as president and CEO of USC Arcadia Hospital (USC-AH).

Since then, he has taken charge of furthering Keck Medicine’s mission to broaden patient access to specialized health care and research in the San Gabriel Valley and beyond.

In an interview earlier this month, Mmeje spoke about his vision for the job and his goals for the coming year.

Tell us about your role as president and CEO of USC Arcadia Hospital.

I’m responsible for overseeing the management and operations of the hospital. That involves developing our board of trustees, as well as holding the responsibility for corporate compliance.

I also mobilize the team to implement the hospital’s strategic direction. I listen and respond to them in terms of what they need to be able to achieve it.

A big part of that deals with working to fund that mission and vision, which may involve working with our philanthropic organization to fundraise.

What drives your passion for this work?

My mother was a nurse for almost 40 years, and of my parents’ six kids, four of us have gone into health care professions.

Initially, like some of my siblings, I wanted to become a physician. It wasn’t until later as I was studying pre-med in college that I discovered the field of public health and the impact of it on large populations.

In my current role, I can satisfy my interest in health care and my passion for leading and serving within communities.

A big part of what keeps me going is being able to see our team members provide care that not only benefits our patients, but also impacts the health of communities and helps to achieve better health equity.

I try to be responsive to the experts on the frontline, hear what it is that they need for us to be better for the community and try to support and deliver it.

How will you address current industry challenges and explore opportunities in the field?

As the health care industry has seen tremendous movement during the pandemic, we must be willing to invest in the recruitment and retention of physicians to provide services we haven’t provided before — for the benefit of Arcadia and the greater San Gabriel Valley.

We also want to build the right complement of staff around them. Supporting new graduates in some of our care environments like our nursing units, for example, will help them to be successful as they onboard into the organization and start providing care for our patients.

Despite industry challenges, we still have a mission and objective to provide excellent, top-notch care to our patients and to grow our services. To do that, we must be innovative and nimble enough to change rapidly.

Our leadership team is leaning into new opportunities — including rounding on patients and our staff, participating in department meetings and having open town hall forums. We are also looking to engage with our physicians and our staff to hear from them about what’s working well that we can nurture, and also what the challenges are that we need to address.

Above all, it’s my responsibility to provide the sort of support that team members need to feel heard and valued, especially so we give the assistance needed after the hardships of the past few years.

What are some of your short-term goals and plans?

Again, we’ll continue to prioritize the engagement of our staff and physicians to achieve a positive work experience. I look forward to spending time with our departments to hear their perceptions of the recent SCORE survey results and to unpack their feedback on how we can be better.

We will focus, on several levels, on ensuring that we meet the highest standards for patient care and safety. We’re integrating a new operating system that will help us respond to safety and quality instances the right way – with the engagement of our team members who are on the front-line.

With that, we will also look at our Leapfrog and CMS Star ratings, hardwiring best practices for safety, quality and patience experience from across the nation into our hospital.

Lastly, in USC-AH’s second year of integration into Keck Medicine, we’re continuing to focus on advancing our shared goals and vision.

With the investments made by Keck Medicine into the hospital, we will introduce new outpatient and hospital-based services, as well as accelerate the implementation of a new electronic health record.

We’re building new clinical programs to better serve Arcadia and the greater San Gabriel Valley, both by expanding existing programs like our cardiovascular services and introducing new ones like hepatobiliary surgery.

How do you spend your free time?

My wife, Renee, and I have been blessed with four amazing kids. We spend a lot of time at soccer fields, basketball courts, dance practices and recitals. We also love traveling together as a family.

Personally speaking, I grew up an athlete — specifically, as a basketball player. Being from Southern California, I’m a huge Lakers fan.

— Michael Juliani