Yale Daily News

In an April 25 press release, the Yale New Haven Health system announced the appointment of Pamela Sutton-Wallace M.P.H ’97 as its chief operating officer, effective July 11, 2022. 

The chief operating officer is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day requirements of the health system, reviewing reports from each of the hospitals in the health system and from the Northeast Medical Group. She will collaborate with delivery network presidents across five hospitals, continuing to advance clinical quality at the highest level and improving safety, financial performance and patient experience of the Yale New Haven Health System. The former chief operating officer, Christopher O’Connor, succeeded Marna Borgstrom as the chief executive officer, and his appointment was effective March 25, 2022. 

“I’m a graduate of [the] Yale School of Public Health and always wanted to return … to Yale, and part of it is because of the wonderful legacy of Marna Borgstrom and all that she’s accomplished,” Sutton-Wallace said. “I think importantly, it was really my conversations with Chris O’Connor … and the vision of the new dean, Nancy Brown, and just how excited they are to really propel the accomplishments of Yale forward. I just want to be a part of that, and I feel like I bring many years of experience in academic medicine, and hopefully, I can contribute in a meaningful way.”

In addition to being in charge of system operations, Sutton-Wallace will be leading the Neurosciences Center Project in the health system’s St. Raphael’s Campus, an almost $840 million endeavor that will see the construction of a 505,000 square-foot facility granting patients access to a variety of innovative clinical services.

This is the largest project of its kind in Connecticut history, O’Connor said, and Sutton-Wallace will continue to manage extensive communication with state officials to move the project forward in its timeline, which includes submitting comprehensive proposals and plans for approval. 

 “We are very fortunate that this type of investment will stretch the boundaries of medicine and likely lead to breakthroughs in the treatment of neurologic disease,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in a Yale Medicine article about the project. “So as we tout the hundreds of new construction and permanent jobs this project represents, we are also humbled by the direct impact it will have on the health of our citizens.”

The decision to appoint Sutton-Wallace as the new COO was an “inclusive” one, according to O’Connor, though the final decision ultimately rested upon him. He described Sutton-Wallace as someone who has “the combination of ‘been there, done that,’ as well as the right way to do it,”  which are important attributes for a role that will help further the organization during “unprecedentely challenging times.”

Per usual, positions other than the chief executive officer do not undergo a formal board election and voting process. Rather, Sutton-Wallace was appointed following input from a “vast majority” of O’Connor’s senior leadership team and the chairman, as well as an interview.

For O’Connor, his decision was based on a combination of Sutton-Wallace’s credentials in the healthcare industry and her personal attributes. 

“Pam is an exceptionally seasoned leader,” O’Connor said. “She’s been in academic healthcare for her whole career. She is extraordinarily emotionally intelligent — she understands the challenges that are confronting us in healthcare.”

Sutton-Wallace said that the COVID-19 pandemic has created “a really tough two and a half years” which has tried many teams and “taken so much out of the health care delivery system.” Recognizing that COVID-19 will be a presence in people’s lives for a long time, she hopes to re-engage the team and staff and help bridge the new normal. 

“COVID-19 has taken a big hit on all hospitals, especially those who are caring for a large number of COVID-19 patients and really trying to recover financially,” said Sutton-Wallace. “First and foremost, though, [we need] to make sure we’re delivering outstanding and the highest quality of care.”

In terms of advice for aspiring medical professionals, Sutton-Wallace emphasized that individuals do not have to follow a traditional route in order to achieve the roles they want to pursue in health care.

According to her, it’s helpful for these individuals to have conversations with people that work in positions they are interested in to ask about what skills they need to learn and how to build out their network.

“It’s important to be your authentic self and know what it is that you like, and quite frankly, what you don’t like,” Sutton-Wallace said. “Then, go about establishing ways to get that experience, doing stretch assignments, having conversations, getting mentored, identifying sponsors and attaching yourself in an organization that’s committed to your growth and development.”

Yale New Haven Health was formed in 1995.

Sophie Wang is the Publisher of the Yale Daily News. She previously served as a Science and Technology editor and was one of the inaugural Diversity, Equity and Inclusion co-chairs. In her first year, she covered the Yale New Haven Health System and COVID-19. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Sophie is a junior in Berkeley College double majoring in computer science and English.
Brian Zhang is Arts editor of the Yale Daily News and the third-year class president at Yale. Previously, he covered student life for the University desk. His writing can also be found in Insider Magazine, The Sacramento Bee, BrainPOP, New York Family and uInterview. Follow @briansnotebook on Instagram for more!