When Sherry Grady came to St. Tammany Health System in March 2022, it was a chance to get back to doing what she does best. In her previous role, Grady had branched into a district manager position that kept her bouncing from hospital to hospital, and she found herself without the kind of relationships and interactions that connected her to the mission of service.
“I felt very separated from the organization and missed the kind of work that one great team was able to accomplish,” explains Grady, who is currently assistant vice president of facilities and safety. “When this position opened up, I was excited at the prospect of being part of a nonprofit health system that prioritizes reinvesting into its operations over profits.”
Shortly into her role, Grady began making sure those investments will pay off for St. Tammany Health System for the foreseeable future, integrating both environmentally sustainable and autonomous technology to keep the Louisiana-based health system on the front lines of innovation.
On the environmental front, Grady figured she would walk the talk when it came to the new workplace electric vehicle (EV) charging stations the hospital is currently in the planning stages to install for its employees. Grady, who drives about 140 miles total every day, saw the savings that would be possible by switching to an EV.
“There are currently about nine of us now driving EVs, and we expect to see that rise,” Grady says. “That’s just a single part of our sustainability initiative, but we want to make sure our employees feel supported if they’re able to make the jump to an electric vehicle.”
More broadly, the hospital is working on Energy Star certification, which is a heavy lift for a main building that was built in 1968. But Grady says renovations have been a constant for the hospital, with an entirely new four-floor tower built two years ago. The tower is outfitted with occupancy sensors, LED lighting, and ultraviolet disinfection installed in patient bathrooms that operate when the room is vacant. St. Tammany is currently undergoing extensive interior renovation designed with the most efficient equipment possible for commercial application.
St. Tammany’s 20-year-old boilers are also getting an extensive overhaul; they are being replaced with energy-efficient boilers throughout the hospital. High-efficiency transformers have been installed to step down power throughout the organization. All new pumps are outfitted with frequency drivers and any pump upgrades for older equipment will include the new drivers as well. In partnership with Louisiana’s Quickstart Energy Efficiency Program, St. Tammany was able to install motor upgrades in all of its cooling towers.
Another part of the renovation includes elevator modernization which will be outfitted with artificial intelligence interfacing to ensure that new autonomous robots are able to call elevators as they drop off medications, IV bags, and any other materials for hospital staff.
Those aren’t the only robots aiding healthcare workers.
Autonomous scrubbers are part of St. Tammany’s environmental services department, so that floor techs can spend more time on work that requires a more human touch. The scrubber—officially named R2-Clean2, the leading vote-getter in a naming contest—is a Nilfisk Liberty SC50 floor scrubber that handles basic floor cleaning all over the hospital.
Grady herself has worked to earn her own upgrades on her impressive professional portfolio. She recently earned certification as a Certified Healthcare Facility Manager (CHFM) in 2022, and she says the accreditation has gone a long way with her self-confidence in a role that has historically been held exclusively by men.
“Even today, I think there are times when people can wonder how a woman can do this job,” Grady says. “But now, with having earned my CHFM certification, I don’t need to question whether or not I’m truly qualified to do a job I’ve done for years.”
Grady has so many projects going on, but she’s intentional about growing her team, soliciting feedback, and making sure her team feels empowered to make decisions.
“As a leader, you have to remember that sometimes you need to seek out those great ideas,” Grady explains. “You have to be willing to take the time to listen and give people room to communicate. I pride myself on not being the smartest person in the room, and I try to hire people that will bring those fantastic ideas to the table.”
Grady says her worldview comes down to the goal of being a little better today than she was yesterday. Given her passion and her optimism for her team and her organization, that seems more than possible.
The 1950s turned out to be a decade of many firsts—the VCR, fiber optics, solar cells, and St. Tammany Parish Hospital. With a mission to birth, heal, and improve the lives of its community in south Louisiana, St. Tammany Health System became and has remained an integral part of the people it serves. Its dedication to sustainability and its eye for the future found a natural ally in Trane Technologies where pioneering and advancing the HVAC industry while minimizing our collective carbon footprint has led to a partnership that pushes the boundaries of sustainable healthcare.