President of Froedtert Hospital

Cathy Buck, MSN, RN, assumed her current role as president of Froedtert Hospital in June 2011. Prior to that, she served as executive vice president for Operations at Froedtert Hospital in 1999. As the chief operating officer for the organization she is responsible for planning, development and oversight of the day-to-day operations of the inpatient units, outpatient services, emergency department/trauma center and multiple support functions of the hospital.

Armed with a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, Cathy began her healthcare career as a staff nurse in Chicago emergency rooms, first at Swedish Covenant Hospital and then at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center while she simultaneously earned her Master’s degree in nursing. She served as an instructor at Rush University College of Nursing and a surgical nurse practitioner and teacher in surgical nursing before moving to Milwaukee.

Cathy moved through several positions at Froedtert Hospital, always setting the highest standards for patient care. It was in 1995, while she was serving as director of the Dialysis Unit, that Bill Petasnick, president and CEO at Froedtert, tapped Cathy to serve as Vice President of Patient Care Services. Cathy describes that moment in time as one of her most memorable. She sees it as setting the tone and beginning the building of what she describes as a “truly cohesive, talented and visionary leadership team of great integrity.” What impressed Cathy most was that she and the other team members had an equal voice and they were heard. Within four months she was able to design a transition plan that put everyone and everything in place so that at midnight on December 21, 1995, when Doyne Hospital closed, all patient care continued at Froedtert without a blip in the continuum of care.

As vice president for Patient Care services Cathy championed the cause of improving customer service, making it a strategic priority. By the time she became executive vice president for Operations customer service was part of the Froedtert culture and Cathy was well on her way in a new venture–establishing a culture of continuous quality improvement. It began as a program called QUEST (Quality Underscores Every Single Task). Then she joined with Dr. Andy Norton in a pioneer effort to implement Six-Sigma methodology in healthcare for the purpose of reducing medical errors and enhancing patient safety. Today, largely as a result of Cathy’s efforts, Froedtert ranks twelfth out of 120 Academic Medical Centers in quality improvement.

Cathy Buck’s service has reached far beyond Froedtert’s walls. She organized the region’s healthcare providers to explore enhancement of trauma care and worked with the State Department of Health and Human Services to develop a Statewide Trauma System Plan with regional participation. She also joined a national effort to address bioterrorism, serving on the Board of the State’s Advisory Council on Bioterrorism Preparedness.

It probably comes as no surprise to the people that know her, that Cathy Buck holds a second degree black belt in karate and is working on advancing to a third degree black belt. The discipline and focus required in the practice of karate are the same qualities she applies to all her work at Froedtert and no doubt at home as well as she and her physician husband guide the development and encourage the success of their four sons.

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