May 29, 2020

Longtime executive director with a passion for patients steps down

Caroline Hatcher taking on new role in cancer care

After over a decade as executive director of Cardiac Sciences at Foothills Medical Centre, Caroline Hatcher is stepping down to take on a new challenge as executive director of the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. 

Hatcher is leaving a legacy in patient care, leadership and quality improvement that won’t soon be forgotten.

“She is a very strong and inspirational leader,” says Dr. Todd Anderson, MD, Vice Dean of the Cumming School of Medicine. Anderson knows Hatcher well. As former head of the Dept. of Cardiac Sciences, Anderson and Hatcher co-led the Dept. of Cardiac Sciences for 10 years. 

Anderson explained Hatcher’s strengths were varied, making her a wonderful collaborator and partner. Hatcher’s ability to get things done, her commitment to her team and her passion for patients stood out to Anderson.

Hatcher’s masters degree was in the area of health studies and leadership, and this enabled her to make great strides in improving care for cardiac patients. She was a strong supporter of clinical research and had several wins in this area, such as revamping clinics and reducing wait times in critical care and cardiac surgery. She also helped secure funds for numerous projects, such as the hybrid operating room and innovations in cardiac surgery.

Hatcher collaborated with numerous organizations around the province, and was on the Cardiovascular Health and Stroke Strategic Clinical Network (SCN), where her role focused on metrics and outcomes.

The word “advocate” comes up often when discussing Hatcher. Whether she is backing her staff, her colleagues and friends or the cardiac patients she represents, Hatcher is known for her passion and strength.

“She has always been a force to be reckoned with,” says Jennifer Coulthard, a colleague who has known Hatcher for 10 years. “She set and maintained the bar for excellence and professionalism and was such as strong beacon of leadership for others to aspire to.”

Coulthard says Hatcher’s keen eye for detail and her commitment to building relationships went a long way.

Hatcher’s former boss Shawna Syverson, the senior operating officer at Alberta health Services for Foothills Medical Centre, agrees.

“She was always looking at what is best for patients,” says Syverson, who has known Hatcher for more than 20 years. “We are quite proud of how she re-profiled the cardiac sciences footprint to optimize things, despite fixed resources. It is an area of constant growth and innovation where the technology advances very quickly, and she has a very strategic mind.”

In her role, Hatcher led a massive team that touched thousands of patients each year. Cardiac care in Calgary leads the country in numerous areas, including survival rate for heart attack patients.

Despite having such a large portfolio, Hatcher always made time to mentor her leaders and teams.

“She is constantly looking to grow people,” says Barb Jones, who reported to Hatcher for nine years as a clinical nurse specialist within Cardiac Sciences before becoming the manager of cardiac diagnostics, clinical informatics and quality at Alberta Health Services. “She grows people out of working for her, which is the sign of a really good leader.”

Syverson concurs, saying Hatcher provided unique mentorship and connection opportunities, like leadership book clubs, breakfasts and parties, for her teams.

“She is really committed to the mentorship of the leaders and managers on her team,” says Syverson. “She spends a lot of time helping them to grow as leaders.”

But Hatcher, a mom to two grown children and caregiver to both of her aging parents, has a playful side as well.

Her staff will always remember Dance Off Fridays in Hatcher’s office, which involved competing to see who had the best moves. She will also be fondly remembered for convincing members of her team to join lip sync performances and karaoke videos.

“She engenders a lot of love and playfulness; there is a lot of fun around her teams,” says Syverson.

Hatcher’s compassion for others, shown in numerous ways, including through her humanitarian work around the globe, endear her to many. In fact, her empathy and kindness in dealing with her staff and colleagues have resulted in numerous genuine connections. 

“She leads with heart, kindness and compassion,” says Syverson. “You would have to describe her as a trusted colleague and friend.”

Anderson feels the same.

“She is an incredibly valued friend and colleague,” he says.