If Tim Johnsen, new president of Integris Baptist Medical Center, needs a quick recharge in his busy work day, he simply runs up a few floors and sits at a patient's bedside.
Many an administrative peer might find such communication awkward, but it comes naturally to Johnsen, 50, who began his 25-year health career as a critical care nurse.
Johnsen joined Integris Jan. 2 from Mercy Hospital and Clinics Hot Springs, where he'd worked since 2006, and included a stint as president and chief executive.
For now, his wife still resides in Hot Springs, Ark., where their son is in high school and his daughter is planning a spring wedding.
Aside from visiting with patients, Johnsen is enjoying getting to know the some 2,700 staff members at Integris' main campus.
“I have a folksy communications style. I like to communicate often and be transparent,” he said. “Fortunately, I'm following leaders who did the same thing. I love that about Integris.”
Johnsen, who succeeds Chris Hammes, who was promoted in July to executive vice president and chief operating officer of Integris' network of hospital operations, sat down with The Oklahoman Monday to talk about his professional and personal life. This is an edited transcript:
Q: Can you tell us about your roots?
A: I grew up in St. Louis, with brothers five and 10 years older. I got my work ethic from my mom, who's 83 and still lives in St. Louis. Until she was 79, she worked the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift doing meticulous piecework in a factory that made thermometers. I got my sense of humor and eternal optimism from my dad, who worked as a plant manager for a chemical company. I grew up deer hunting and fishing with him. He'd grown up on a farm, so we always had a cabin somewhere that we'd head off to every weekend. My parents divorced when I was 13, and I lived with my dad, since my mom worked evenings. We lived next to a fire station, so I'd hang out with the firemen who'd watch out for me.
Q: Any school highlights?
A: I worked a lot, as a busboy and waiter, starting at age 14 at Dairy Queen. I grew up in a lower middle-class family, so if I wanted any extra money, I was going to have to work for it. I met my wife, Nancy, at age 16. We were in the same class of 1,067 students in St. Louis. But more importantly, we shared the same bus stop. Nancy is a self-trained vocalist, and I learned a little piano from my father, who played by ear. Our senior year, Nancy and I played together at piano bars and even convinced our principal to count it as work study, so we could sleep in and not take first hour. At 17, we had more discretionary income than our parents, with $1 tips covering our respective bedroom dressers.
• Position: President, Integris Baptist Medical Center
• Birth date: Jan. 15, 1963
• Family: Nancy, married 23 years; daughter Kassie, 21, of Arkadelphia, Ark; son Sam, 17, of the home
• Education: Southwest Missouri State University; bachelor's in nursing; Southwest Baptist
• For fun: running (he's registered to run the half marathon in this spring's Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon), weight training and travel, including frequent trips to New York City where his wife and daughter take in as many performances as possible