Over 250 Years of Combined Experience

Our experts have more than 250 years of combined experience in implementing and sustaining lean methods in a variety of health care settings, including operational leadership and management, physician practice and leadership, quality and patient safety, and nursing clinical practice and leadership.

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Faculty/Sensei

Cindy Jo Allen, MBA, RN

Cindy Jo Allen, MBA, RN, is an executive sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. She coaches executive teams on the strategic oversight of organizational transformation.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, Cindy Jo coached leaders on using lean methods as the foundation of daily management and strategic planning. As a member of the Virginia Mason Kaizen Promotion Office (KPO), she was integral in the development of the surgical services model lines and in the design of how multidisciplinary guiding teams use the management method to achieve organizational goals. Prior to her role in the KPO, Cindy Jo was a clinical leader who used the lean methods and tools of the Virginia Mason Production System in facilities design and managing patient flow. She also developed the unique perspective of how lean tools can accelerate the transformation of clinical research into innovations in clinical practice.

Cindy Jo is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System® and experience-based design.

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Christopher J. Backous, MHA

Chris Backous, MHA, is a senior faculty member at Virginia Mason Institute. He leads improvement activities, workshops and training for health care leaders and providers worldwide. By embedding innovative methods into the lean concepts he teaches, he works with clients to unlock the revolutionary thinking necessary to transform health care.

In his 3P projects at client sites, he works with health care leaders, architects, medical planners and general contractors to design or redesign ambulatory surgery centers, emergency departments, inpatient and outpatient care environments, urgent care centers, labor and delivery facilities, cancer care facilities and patient safety programs.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, Chris led the integration of lean methods into the design of Virginia Mason’s 350,000-square-foot hospital addition, the first environment of its kind to be built from the ground up using the Virginia Mason Production System. He also led numerous improvement events using lean tools and methods to improve health care processes.

Chris is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System® and 3P (Production, Preparation, Process) facilitation.

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Marlon Borbon, MBA, PT, LSSBB

Marlon Borbon, MBA, PT, LSSBB, is a sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. For health care leaders and providers worldwide, he leads numerous improvement events with a focus on cultural transformation and sustainment.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, Marlon managed start-up clinics, developed community wellness programs, led process redesigns and integration of complex ambulatory programs with hospital services, and coached physicians and executive leaders in change management.

Marlon is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®. He is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and is board certified in health care management as a fellow of the American College and Healthcare Executives (ACHE).

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Erica Cumbee, MPA

Erica Cumbee, MPA, is a faculty member at Virginia Mason Institute. In Seattle and at client sites, she trains clients from all over the world to use lean tools and methods and helps them develop operational leadership, ensure adherence to lean principles and embed lean management methodology into health care cultures.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, she led operations in patient financial and support services, developed health care curriculum for training, and coached leaders and staff through lean training and certification.

Erica is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®, experience-based design (EBD), training within industry (TWI) and focus group leadership.

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Celeste Derheimer, MBA, RN, CPHQ

Celeste Derheimer, MBA, RN, CPHQ, is a sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. In Seattle and at client sites worldwide, she leads multiple improvement activities to increase safety and quality (such as decreasing health care-associated infections), improve administrative processes (such as standardizing organizational planning) and more.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, Celeste served as administrative director for corporate quality and safety at Virginia Mason, where she was responsible for organization-wide quality improvement, patient safety programs and initiatives, and operational leadership for employee health, infection prevention and patient education. She also held quality leadership positions in a number of health systems in Washington and Oregon.

Celeste is a Kaizen Fellow graduate certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®. She is also an examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality.

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Deborah Dollard, MBA

Deborah Dollard, MBA, is an executive sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. She coaches executive teams worldwide to lead lean implementation and transform health care.

Prior to her work at Virginia Mason Institute, Deb worked as an executive lean consultant with John Black and Associates (JBA), where she served as a strategic guide and coach for executive teams, trained leaders, set up kaizen promotion offices, coached improvement events and led sustainable, measurable implementations. She has worked with multiple hospitals, including a large, multisite project in Saskatchewan.

Before working with JBA, Deb was an executive with Boeing Commercial Airplanes who deployed lean strategies across multiple disciplines, including sales and marketing, financial analysis, strategic planning, program management and operations. She was instrumental in setting up the organization’s first Quality Improvement Center.

Deb is certified in lean by John Black and Associates and is trained in the Virginia Mason Production System®. She has practiced lean leadership for 30 years, dedicating her past 8 years to health care.

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Cathie Furman, MHA, RN

Cathie Furman, MHA, RN, is an executive faculty member at Virginia Mason Institute. In her work in Seattle and worldwide, she helps health care executives and leaders understand how a lean method such as the Virginia Mason Production System can dramatically improve safety and quality.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, Cathie was one of the executives who took Virginia Mason’s first trip to Japan to learn the benefits of using lean tools and a lean management system. After the trip, she and her executive colleagues led the initiative to adopt the Toyota Production System to health care. She also created and implemented the Patient Safety Alert SystemTM, a groundbreaking method to engage all employees to report any incident or situation that could cause harm to a patient.

Cathie is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

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Ingrid Gerbino, MD, FACP

Ingrid Gerbino, MD, FACP, Chief for the Department of Primary Care, is a practicing internist at Virginia Mason and a physician faculty member at Virginia Mason Institute. She provides lean education and training to health care leaders and providers from around the world and provides leadership for the Puget Sound High Value Network, a health plan of innovative organizations that provide high-quality, cost-effective and comprehensive care.

Dr. Gerbino has led many process improvement initiatives at Virginia Mason, including the creation of flow stations designed to allow providers to work in flow, the implementation of electronic results to endorse and the implementation of the patient portal in primary care. She has also coached multiple providers on how to incorporate key lean elements into their practices to improve patient care and staff engagement.

Dr. Gerbino is a Kaizen Fellow graduate certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

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Rosemary King, MHA, RN

Rosemary King, MHA, RN, is a faculty member at Virginia Mason Institute. Her strong passion for delivering extraordinary patient experiences, teaching lean processes and developing staff capabilities is key to her success in educating health care leaders from around the world.

Prior to her work at Virginia Mason Institute, Rosemary was a founding member of Virginia Mason’s Kaizen Promotion Office, where she worked with leaders and staff throughout the organization to create a system of continuous improvement in which each team’s improvement gains could be sustained. She also managed and provided clinical expertise within perioperative services.

Rosemary is a Kaizen Fellow graduate and is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

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Chika Lambert, LSSBB

Chika Lambert, LSSBB, is a sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. In Seattle and around the world, she leads lean improvement activities for health care teams who are committed to transforming their organizations.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, Chika was a lean implementation manager at Zodiac Aerospace, where she facilitated continuous improvement activities throughout the organization. As a principal at Lean Manufacturing Translations, she provided education, training, and Japanese and English interpretation services in process improvement to health care, manufacturing, finance and information technology organizations.

Chika, who was educated in Japan and the United States, is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a certified agile scrum master.

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Melissa Lin, MS, CPHQ, LSSBB

Melissa Lin, MS, CPHQ, LSSBB, is a sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. She coaches and guides health care leaders and providers worldwide through their cultural transformation toward lean as their management method.

Her national experience in health care strategy consulting has given her breadth and depth across a number of domains, with a particular focus on strategic planning, board governance and strategic partnerships. She has also led lean training and coaching engagements for small and large hospital groups, implemented organizationwide strategies and spoken at numerous regional and national health care conferences on the impact of a continuous improvement culture.

Melissa is trained in the Virginia Mason Production System® and certified in TapRoot Root Cause Analysis. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics from the University of California, Los Angeles. With her continuous improvement foundations originating from The Dartmouth Institute of Health Policy and Clinical Practice, where she earned her master’s degree, she is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a Certified Professional of Healthcare Quality.

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Diane Miller, MBA

Diane Miller, MBA, is an executive sensei at Virginia Mason Institute and served as the institute’s first executive director beginning in 2008. Formerly a vice president at Virginia Mason, she helped design the infrastructure to support the organization’s adoption of the Virginia Mason Production System as its management method. Today she leads rapid process improvement events for clients worldwide and designs and develops education and training services for health care leaders and providers. She also oversees the Center for Health Care Solutions, an innovation unit working to create a new model of health care delivery that achieves reliable evidence-based care with high patient satisfaction and a lower cost.

Prior to coming to Virginia Mason Institute, Diane was a consultant who worked with organizations to apply the Toyota Production System to health care. She also worked in a variety of positions at Virginia Mason, including a leading role in organizational development when Virginia Mason first began its lean journey in 2001.

Diane is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

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Ellen Noel, MN, RN, CPHQ

Ellen Noel, MN, RN, CPHQ, is a faculty member at Virginia Mason Institute. Her in-depth knowledge of clinical processes, team development, health care outcomes and regulatory performance provides a solid foundation for an extraordinary customer learning experience.

Prior to her work at Virginia Mason Institute, Ellen worked as an adult clinical nurse specialist and director of quality and safety. As an improvement leader, she led system-level improvement work in medication safety, nursing and care team workflow efficiencies, pain management and patient safety.

Ellen is a Kaizen Fellow graduate certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®. She is also a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality.

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Henry Otero, MD

Henry Otero, MD, a medical oncologist, is a physician faculty member at Virginia Mason Institute. In his work with health care leaders and providers, he brings a valuable provider perspective that resonates with organizations seeking to increase safety, quality and efficiency and achieve zero-defect health care.

Dr. Otero has led numerous process improvement events at Virginia Mason and client sites, specializing in improving physician and executive engagement, creating ambulatory flow, and training in Virginia Mason’s lean tools and methods.

Dr. Otero is a Kaizen Fellow graduate certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

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Rhonda Stewart

Rhonda Stewart is a sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. At organizations worldwide, she leads health care leaders to build a lean culture and coaches them to set up a solid infrastructure to support lean implementation and organizational learning — always with a focus on patients.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, Rhonda was a director in the revenue and performance reporting department, immersed in applying lean methods in the areas of health care accounting, budgeting and analytics.

Rhonda is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

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Leadership

Diana Moses, MBA

Diana Moses leads the client experience team at Virginia Mason Institute. She works with clients from all over the world to help them meet their individual needs as they implement and sustain lean methodology at their health care organizations.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, Diana led operations and guest services for a team at the Walt Disney Company and also worked in health care with numerous leaders and providers.

Diana is trained in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

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Gordon Sansaver, MBA

Gordon Sansaver, MBA, is the director of administration at Virginia Mason Institute. He provides oversight of business development, product and service development, and operations. He also leads team members to construct and implement strategies and design programs that best serve health care clients worldwide. Since joining the institute he has delivered education and training services to health care clients to help them eliminate defects, reduce waste and focus all their health care processes on the patient.

Prior to joining the institute, he led numerous kaizen events, including Rapid Process Improvement Workshops (RPIWs), across all areas of Virginia Mason in areas such as primary and specialty ambulatory care, inpatient care, emergency care, human resources and finance.

Gordon is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

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Diana Thordarson

Diana Thordarson is the operations manager at Virginia Mason Institute. She supervises staff and oversees daily operations and the central operations for all divisions of the institute. She also manages the development, maintenance and process improvement of systems and processes for information systems, finance and property management. As a former marketing professional, she coordinated and implemented marketing and sales initiatives for the Virginia Mason Institute.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, she provided administrative support to Virginia Mason’s Kaizen Promotion Office for internal kaizen events and coordinated visits to Virginia Mason from health care organizations all over the world.

Diana is trained in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

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Kirsten Mecklenburg Turner, MBA

Kirsten Mecklenburg Turner, MBA, is the executive director and an executive sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. As the executive director, she oversees the organization’s business line, providing expert resources in coaching for lean culture transformation in health care. As an executive sensei, she coaches leadership teams in the application of lean as a management method.

In all her work, Kirsten focuses on executive and clinician alignment, strategy and governance. Her experience across domains critical to care delivery and operational and financial performance include clinician adoption of standardized care models, implementation of clinical information systems, revenue cycle and workflow-based performance improvement initiatives, and executive talent management programs.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, Kirsten served as a leader for health care transformation services at Deloitte Consulting, guiding health systems and their executives through large-scale transformation.

Kirsten is trained in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

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