Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Undeterred by a Bad Economy: J. Gilbert Sierra Focuses on Innovation Even in Tough Times

Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Undeterred by a Bad Economy: J. Gilbert Sierra Focuses on Innovation Even in Tough Times

Article excerpt

The economic downturn has put increased financial pressures on behavioral healthcare organizations, and many are faced with budget cuts at a time when the demand for services is rapidly increasing. As the new CEO of the Peace River Center (PRC) in Bartow, Florida, J. Gilbert Sierra has his work cut out for him, making sure the organization maintains its service levels while tightening its belt but still pursuing new opportunities.

"The entire economy is undergoing tremendous difficulties, and we're not excluded from that," explains Sierra, who became PRC's CEO in September. "But it forces us to adopt a mind-set of innovation. We have to come up with creative solutions to these problems, and I am committed to having a fully engaged workforce." To that end Sierra has held a series of town-hall style meetings to keep his team informed and seek their input.

Sierra is a numbers man, with a degree in accounting and finance and a master's in health services administration, and he has decades of experience as both a healthcare administrator and consultant. Growing up around the rough neighborhoods of the Bronx in New York City, Sierra saw firsthand how untreated mental illness and addiction ravages a community--and the importance of the safety net supplied by mental health and social service providers.

"I grew up in an area that is very much like the one we provide services for," Sierra notes. "That was an environment where people faced a lot of obstacles, and facilities like Peace River helped sustain them. What really moves me and motivates me is the development and empowerment of people, and helping them reach their full potential. …

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