Lisa Dutterer

Great leaders team up to improve lives

Lisa Dutterer is someone who likes having a plan. But all her plans went out the window on March 6, 2020.

Lisa Dutterer
Vice President, Operations, Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital

“We had been keeping an eye on Covid for a few weeks, working to make sure the hospital and staff were ready when the virus really hit,” says the Vice President of Operations at Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital. “But on that day, we became the first hospital in South Jersey to diagnose a Covid-positive patient.”

It was also the day Dutterer was supposed to meet with a team to kick off planning for the detailed move into the new patient pavilion, phase 2 of the transformation on the Cherry Hill Campus. Prior to the pandemic, Dutterer was busy overseeing day-to-day operations of the hospital as well as projects that promote the hospital’s growth. At that time, that meant spearheading a more than $250 million transformation project that included building, and then moving into, a state-of-the-art 7-story patient pavilion with all-private rooms.

Construction continued, but it looked like the move, set for December 2020, would be put on hold. And that, she says, was a potential major setback.

“Compared to the pandemic, something like moving into a new building doesn’t seem like a big deal,” says Dutterer. “But that new building represented an entirely new level of care we’d be able to offer our patients, which became even more vital during that time.”

That commitment to the patient has been a hallmark of her 25-year career. Dutterer always knew she wanted to be in healthcare, which for most people means medical staff treating patients – not administrative work behind a desk.

So she went into physical therapy, and while completing her Master’s in PT at Arcadia University, one of her professors said to her, “Don’t be surprised if you end up in administration.”

“And I thought, ‘No way, that isn’t for me,’” she says. “I’m doing this because I want to help patients, to connect with them and work with them one-on-one. You can’t do that from an executive office.”

But within a year and a half of graduating, she found herself in her first administrative position.

“We work closely with the entire healthcare team and local communities to fulfill our mission.”

“I went into the job naively thinking that when you go into leadership, you don’t have an impact on patients day-to-day and outcomes,” she says. “And what I quickly discovered is that as a leader, you have the ability to have a big impact on the quality and safety of the services provided.”

Dutterer came into the job with a mission to create services that are centered around improving daily life for patients, families, physicians and staff.

“The most common myth that surrounds administration is that you won’t have a direct impact on patient care and in the broader communities we serve,” says Dutterer. “In reality, hospital administrators get the unique opportunity to partner with clinical and non-clinical team members to fufill a mission. At Jefferson Health, that mission is to improve lives.”

“We work closely with the entire healthcare team and local communities to fulfill our mission,” she adds.

That’s the logic she hopes will inspire other healthcare professionals to consider a leadership role too, she says.

“One of the most important things you can support is the development of other leaders, especially people who don’t see themselves in that role, like me,” says Dutterer. “People with experience, people who care deeply, people who desire to have a large impact on healthcare – those are the types of people we want at the helm, and it’s important to foster that.”

Another exciting initiative improving lives under Dutterer’s leadership at Jefferson Cherry Hill is Project SEARCH, a one-year transition program providing training and education leading to employment for young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. Interns report daily to Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital to learn employability and job skills while participating in 3 internships.

“Our leaders and staff have the opportunity to mentor interns in partnership with instructors from the Cherry Hill-based Y.A.L.E. School,” says Dutterer. “Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital was the program’s first site in South Jersey, and we recently graduated our fifth class of interns. We’re also proud to have received a Project SEARCH National Award for Employment Outcomes and a 2020 Spotlight on Innovative Employment Award. We are incredibly honored to be part of this program, making a difference in the lives of the interns and their future.”

Since successfully moving into their new patient pavilion in Cherry Hill in December, Dutterer and her team have also started the process to build a new Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in Cherry Hill – a $34 million cancer center that will offer medical oncology and radiation oncology among other services. That, she says, is cause for celebration.

“We never held a ribbon cutting for our new building,” she says. “We’re hoping to hold a one-year anniversary ribbon cutting this fall. We know you don’t need a ceremony to make something official, yet it’s a testament to the challenges we’ve faced and that we’ve worked together to come out even stronger on the other side.” | 856-488-6500 | 2201 Chapel Ave West, Cherry Hill