Deborah Simon

Interim President/CEO, Methodist Medical Center

My educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Illinois; Master’s in Business Administration from Bradley University; Fellow from Wharton Nursing Executive Program; and Fellow from Henry Crown Leadership Program, Aspen Institute.

My career began in 1976 as a cardiac nurse at Methodist in the new Open Heart Intermediate Care Unit. In two years I was promoted to head nurse of the unit, and since then have held successive management positions from the director level to executive level. In 1995, I became the chief operating officer, and in 2000, I took on a combined chief operating officer/chief nursing officer role. Most recently, I was appointed the interim president and CEO.

My family consists of my husband, Rick, who retired from Edward Hine Company and is loving it. My son, David, graduated from the University of Iowa in business and obtained an MBA from Loyola University in Chicago. He is currently enjoying working for Level 3 Communications in Chicago, and enjoys the city life—who wouldn’t at age 26?!

Major Accomplishments of 2011
2011 has been an exciting year for Methodist, and for me personally. We continue to be a strong, excellence-driven organization committed to our mission: “To deliver outstanding healthcare. Period.” We have highly committed leaders, staff and physicians who carry out that mission every day. We are proud of our results, yet we strive to continually improve.
Key accomplishments of the year for Methodist include:

  • Joining the Iowa Health System as the eighth senior affiliate, a proactive decision for our future
  • Being recognized for Stroke Care Excellence, 5-Star rating, four years in a row
  • Being recognized in our Wound Center as an Accredited Facility with Distinction
  • Initiating the new psychiatric residency with the UICOMP
  • Receiving numerous rankings in the Top 10% in the Nation; and No. 1 in Market, by CareChex, a medical quality rating system
  • Being recognized as a Bronze Beacon for Nursing Excellence in Cardiovascular ICU
  • Installing the first GE Discovery Nuclear Medicine SPECT/CT in the U.S. 
  • Launching our senior services program, Encore, providing education and a variety of services to senior citizens over 55 years of age
  • Achieving the Most Wired Hospital Award for 2011
  • Continuing to achieve top-decile and above performance in patient satisfaction
  • Named a high-performing hospital for Orthopedics, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Gastroenterology and Geriatrics by U.S. News & World Report.

Personal highlights of the year include:

  • Being selected for the Pekin YWCA Women’s Recognition Day Outstanding Achievement Award. I had been honored in Peoria several years ago and appreciated being recognized in Pekin, where I live.
  • Being asked to serve as the interim CEO, having the opportunity to lead the IHS affiliation through its final months of completion, and now to lead the transition into the system.
  • Having served as chair of the Methodist College of Nursing from 2005 to 2010, we transitioned from a School of Nursing to a College of Nursing. It has brought me great pride to see the college busting at the seams this year, with over 500 students and highly qualified faculty and staff under the direction of Kimberly Johnston, Ph.D.
  • Continuing to serve as a mentor to individuals at Methodist and externally.
  • Being the executive sponsor leading Methodist’s Baldrige Journey of Excellence, resulting in a site visit in late 2010.


What is your secret to maintaining a balance between your work and personal life? I have a lot of support at home from my husband, Rick. He is very balanced and brings that to our lives. He is optimistic and sees the good and the fun in life and helps me to do the same. My son, David, is a delight in my life. He is smart, caring and a big supporter of mine. And my friends—they care about how my job is going, but mostly, they care about how I am doing. We laugh, play golf, play cards, kick back, relax, and enjoy and support each other.

I believe balance is critical to keeping your passion for your work and your life.

What is your leadership philosophy? I have a values-based leadership philosophy, grounded in the belief that a leader’s primary responsibility is to create a culture and environment in which physicians and employees can thrive in meeting the organization’s mission and are excited to work toward accomplishing the vision of the future.

I believe a leader must value the work of the staff. I have been fortunate to work in the same organization for 35 years. In a 1996 article in The Peoria Woman, I shared that “to know people are counting on you is one thing; to know the people who are counting on you is another.” I feel a strong personal accountability to the physicians and employees of Methodist, and a deep commitment to assuring excellence to the communities we serve.

I believe a leader must feel passion every day, develop the trust of the organization’s stakeholders and have fun in the process.

Did you have a mentor in the early stages of your career? One of my strongest mentors was Martha Fritz, the vice president of nursing at Methodist from 1962 to 1998. She was a great role model and believed in me, which helped me to believe in myself. Her best advice: Set high standards and goals and expect others and yourself to achieve them. I have adhered to that advice throughout my career. iBi

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