'In a good place'
Emory CEO dives right in to new role

SNELLVILLE - Kim Ryan has an impressive repertoire of daily activities.

She starts most days with a 4:30 a.m. run then heads off to work where she serves as Emory Eastside Medical Center's newly appointed chief executive officer.

Leaving her previous home in New Orleans, La., on Sunday to arrive in Snellville for a full day's work Monday, it's apparent Ryan is dedicated to her new job.

In the first week of employment at Emory, her days are booked learning the ways of the hospital, meeting physicians and nurse staff or shaking the hand of a hospital volunteer.

In her previous job Ryan brought New Orleans' Tulane Medical Center through hurricane Katrina and rebuilt the hospital in the wake of disaster - she admits she's prepared for anything.

Post reporter Melissa Wilson had the chance to sit down with Ryan in the midst of her first week on the job to probe her mind and make her dish about her hobbies, family life and settling down in Snellville.

MW: As the chief operating officer of Tulane Medical Center, you obviously played an integral role in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Tell me a little about that experience.

KR: After Katrina we worked to rebuild the hospital - the downtown center was under three to five feet of water. We had to evacuate everyone. It took about two to three weeks just to get the water pumped out.

Our goal was to get a minimum number of beds open by Mardi Gras. We were the only hospital in New Orleans Parish.

Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, we opened with 63 beds.

My (emergency room) knowledge was really put to good use. I really believe there was a reason for me being there.

MW: When you're in a stressful situation on the job, what do you do to calm down?

KR: What really grounds me when I'm stressed is going into a nursing unit and talking with patients.

MW: That comes from your experience as a nurse?

KR: Oh yeah. That's were I started.

MW: So Monday (Feb. 18) was your first day here at the medical center, when did you arrive in Gwinnett?

KR: I drove in Sunday night and started Monday morning.

MW: Wow. That's dedication. You're married with children, did they come along?

KR: I have three children. Twenty-year-old twin boys who are sophomores at Louisiana State University, and a 26-year-old daughter who's in school here at Georgia Perimeter. She's going to be a nurse. She's really excited that we're so close. I'm away from the boys now, but you know the first year of college they were coming home on the weekends, but now it just like, send the check, mom.

MW: You've only been here a short time, but have you had any time to scout out the area?

KR: My twins have done a lot of the scouting for me (online). But I have scouted out where I can run. I'm going to have to get used to the hills again. You know, New Orleans is so flat.

MW: How long have you been a runner?

KR: For about 15 years.

MW: What's the length of your average run?

KR: I do three to five miles a few times a week and a long run on the weekends.

MW: What else do you like to do in your free time?

KR: I love to garden - that's my other stress reliever. And I like to golf. I actually met my husband playing junior golf when I was 9 years old.

MW: Really? That's amazing. How long have you two been married?

KR: Twenty, no 21 years. I better get that right.

MW: You worked at the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon a few years ago. Does it feel good to be back in Georgia?

KR: It does. We're big Braves fans.

MW: So you mentioned you have a house in Snellville. Have you even had time to decorate yet?

KR: I have an identical twin sister in Chicago who is a nurse and she and her husband and my mom and dad are going to come down and help me pick out all the things I need.

The house that we bought is a new home and I'm really excited about doing some gardening. I've already been looking at my old landscaping books to see what I can do.

MW: Was there anything particular that you were looking for when moving here?

KR: I love an open floor plan. Like many people, we mostly live out of the kitchen and the family room.

Rich (her husband) is one of 11 children, so we have lots of family that we'd like to come down and visit, so we were looking for something with some extra rooms.

MW: What does Rich do?

KR: He has his own contracting business doing home remodeling and renovation. He's trying to decide, now that we're moving here, if he wants to continue with that or do something different.

MW: I see you have a Blackberry. Do you find you can't go a day without ?

KR: I didn't until Katrina. We found communication is so hard and we began text messaging. We actually had a group of teenagers come into the command center to teach how to send a text message.

MW: That's great.

KR: It was. It was really easy during that time when I had physicians scattered all over the country after the storm. We e-mail, too. (laughs) I've come into the new age.

MW: How did you know this was the hospital you wanted to continue your career with?

KR: The day I came in for my interview I knew I was in a good place. I was here at 6:30 a.m. and the volunteers came up - and they didn't know who I was - and said "Can I get you a cup of coffee?" That really made me feel welcome. And I thought this is a place that I'd want my family to come to.