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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Leadership

Gary Kaplan, MD, FACP, FACMPE, FACPE Chairman and CEO, Virginia Mason Health System

Gary Kaplan, MD, FACP, FACMPE, FACPE, is the chairman and chief executive officer of Virginia Mason Health System, serving in the role since 2000.

Dr. Kaplan received a degree in medicine from the University of Michigan and is board certified in internal medicine. He completed his internal medicine residency at Virginia Mason and served as chief resident in 1980-1981. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, the American College of Medical Practice Executives, and the American College of Physician Executives, and is recognized as one of the most influential physician executives in health care.

He has been honored nationally for his leadership. Modern Healthcare magazine ranked Dr. Kaplan number 42 on its 2018 list of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives and Leaders in the U.S., marking the 13th time he has been named to this exclusive list. In 2013, he was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine, recognizing those who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

Gary is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

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Sarah Patterson, MHA, FACMPE Executive Director and Executive Sensei

Sarah Patterson, MHA, FACMPE, is the executive director of Virginia Mason Institute. In addition, Sarah is an executive sensei who coaches executive teams worldwide to lead lean implementation and transform health care.

Sarah has been a member of the leadership team at Virginia Mason Medical Center for over 30 years, most recently serving as the executive vice president and chief operating officer. She helped Virginia Mason establish its own lean production system to eliminate waste and improve quality and patient safety, and has been on seven study missions to Japan. She has held responsibility for all operations of the clinic and hospital along with the kaizen promotion office, human resources, quality and compliance, facilities and pharmaceutical services.

Sarah has had a long career as a health care executive and brings deep knowledge of the challenges and opportunities in the ever-changing health care landscape. Sarah is an expert at teaching, coaching and applying lean processes and techniques. She is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

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Wendy Korthuis-Smith, Ed.D., M.S. Associate Executive Director

Wendy Korthuis-Smith, Ed.D., M.S., is the associate executive director at Virginia Mason Institute. Wendy provides leadership and oversees the development of new products and services to strategically assess, identify improvement opportunities, develop and implement transformation and transition plans, and continually evaluate continuous improvement for clients worldwide. Wendy holds significant experience developing and implementing large scale transformation and transition plans.

Wendy came to Virginia Mason Institute from Deloitte Consulting, and spent several years prior with the Washington State Governor’s Office where she led state government transformation through the development and implementation of Results Washington, a performance improvement initiative incorporating 53 state government agencies, boards and commissions across five priority goal areas. She worked with Virginia Mason early on in her career as a leadership development consultant.

Wendy is trained in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

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Gordon Sansaver, MBA Senior Director, Strategy and Operations

Gordon Sansaver, MBA, is the senior director of strategy and operations at Virginia Mason Institute. He provides administration of our finance, information systems, operations, human resources, business development, and communications functions and work groups within the institute. Since joining the institute, he has delivered education and training services to institute clients domestically and in the United Kingdom, helping them eliminate defects, reduce waste and focus all of their health care processes on the patient.

Prior to joining the institute, he provided training and coaching in lean management methods to executive and operational leadership teams and led numerous improvement events, including rapid process improvement workshops (RPIWs), across Virginia Mason in areas such as primary and specialty ambulatory care, inpatient care, emergency care, facilities, supply chain, human resources and finance.

Gordon is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

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Mary Alida Brisk, MAIS, SHRM-SCP Director of Client Services

Mary Alida Brisk, MAIS, SHRM-SCP, is the director of client services at Virginia Mason Institute. In her role, she provides oversight and strategic talent management to the institute. She also leads development of institute team members who provide education, facilitation, and coaching services to health care organizations worldwide in the areas of organizational transformation, culture change, improvements to quality and safety, efficiency, patient experience and staff engagement.

Before working at Virginia Mason Institute, Mary Alida spent nine years with Seattle Children’s Regional Medical Center, serving as director of talent management, and previously, as director of learning and organizational effectiveness. Prior to that, she worked as a solutions-driven strategy consultant to Fortune 500 companies with a focus on large-scale performance improvement.

Mary Alida is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

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