Dr. Brigeli Westerband stepped up as the new chief of staff at Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital earlier this month — but she is hardly a new face at the medical facility.
Twenty years ago, Westerband joined the hospital staff as an emergency-room physician. Soon, she was promoted to a leadership position in the department.
“From there, I realized, unless you’re committed to the hospital, you can’t affect change,” Westerband said.
So, Westerband expanded her commitment. She attended meetings for other committees, eventually taking leadership positions with the interdisciplinary practices and medical executive committees.
Westerband’s new role entails ensuring that the medical staff provides quality medical care to the community and individual patients, she said.
“We do that by fostering camaraderie, by fostering leadership,” she said.
That means working with the administration and medical board to harmonize their goals and direction, she added.
According to Westerband, she is just the fourth woman in the hospital’s history to take the role.
However, Glendale Memorial may have appointed the western United State’s first female chief of staff, Dr. Rozella Knox, several years ago, Westerband said.
“I’m following in her footsteps,” said Westerband, who overlapped with Knox at the hospital during her early years.
Kicking off her two-year term on Jan. 1, Westerband praised the previous chief of staff, Dr. Randall Roberts.
“In his short couple of years [in the role], he moved the hospital forward,” she said, pointing to his success to get the hospital accredited as a heart and stroke receiving center.
Although Westerband has not made any major decisions yet, the hospital team, as a whole, is planning on bringing forward a hospitalist program, which brings in physicians that primarily focus on patients’ well-being, she said.
As an emergency-room physician, Westerband said she’s in the unique position of having interacted with every specialty in the hospital, including surgeons, cardiologists, pediatricians and obstetricians.
“Honestly, I am still an emergency-room physician at heart, and I am still a practicing emergency-room physician,” Westerband said. “This is just another layer of my practice.”