Conversation with Pat Magoon: 40 Years at Lurie Children’s

Magoon with then patient Bridget Evans who is now a Patient Safety Analyst at the hospital.

Forty years ago, Lurie Children’s President and CEO Pat Magoon started his career at the hospital as an intern, while pursuing his master’s degree in urban policy and planning from the University of Illinois. Twenty years later, in 1997, he was named the hospital’s President and CEO. Under his leadership, the hospital has prospered, increasing the number of children served by 50 percent. He continues to be a strong advocate for child health on the Federal and State levels, and is the Past Chair of the Children’s Hospital Association and the Illinois Hospital Association. Here he reflects on his years with the hospital.

You have spent your entire career in pediatric healthcare. What inspires you?

PM: One of the wonderful attributes of healthcare is that it still attracts people who have an interest in humanity. Healthcare still is and should remain a noble profession, in the truest sense of the word. It is all about helping people. Recruiting some of the brightest people in the world who have passion about that is what makes it great. Every day I get to be around the smartest people in the world who are here because they are doing good work for the children and families who need us. 

What is your most memorable moment?

PM: For me the most memorable experience was the hospital move. Watching this wonderful, choreographed move was like watching air come out of a balloon as we left the Lincoln Park facility, and then seeing the balloon fill up again as life entered Lurie Children’s with such tremendous enthusiasm.

The contrast was striking.

When you started out at the hospital as an intern, did you want to become the CEO one day?

Magoon with Jesse Fregoso (left) and Jay Johnson (right) closing Children’s Memorial Hospital on move day June 9, 2012.

PM: Becoming the CEO was never something that crossed my mind. I have never aspired to be the CEO because then it is all about you instead of the work or the environment in which you’re operating.

What helped you most to advance in your career at Lurie Children’s?

PM: My career advancement is really attributable to being with an organization that has a phenomenal reputation and with leaders who really cared about the development of the staff here.

How has the hospital culture evolved through the years?

PM: There are many elements of the culture that I believe are essential to maintaining the core identity of the institution. Culture of passion to do the right thing. Culture of learning. Culture of caring for patients, families and co-workers. That is at the heart of who we are. What is changing now is an organization that maintains all those elements and is now striving to be a leader in the development of cures for children and families. It is not just delivering the best state-of-the-art care, it is defining the state-of-the-art care. The more we do this, the more demands it puts on us to be more thoughtful and creative about how we can do it better, more efficiently, more safely and more compassionately.


Magoon with Bettye Tucker on her last day after 50 years at the hospital.

What do you see as today’s most pressing issues in children’s healthcare?

PM: One of the most pressing issues today is the absence of any clear national or State policy around what we as a society want to do for our children. How do we create an environment that allows children to be more successful than we have been? And it may mean that we need to re-prioritize our resources and what we are doing. We should be investing more in our children’s health and well-being.

Is there something that people would be surprised to learn about you?

PM: I was a cab driver for a while.

Read more about Pat as he discusses the future of the Affordable Care act and growth of Lurie Children’s in this this Chicago Tribune article.

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