10+1 Questions with Pete Govorchin, Cancer Treatment Centers of America

1. Cancer Treatment Centers of America just opened a new outpatient care center at 160 E. Illinois, your first in downtown Chicago. Tell us about the strategy.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) is a comprehensive cancer care network of hospitals, and now outpatient care centers, in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Tulsa. Historically, we’ve built our hospitals in areas where we felt we could impact the most people. For our hospital in Zion, the location is mid-way between Milwaukee and Chicago. But we also saw that there is a lot of demand from oncology patients to receive care closer to their homes. According to the Illinois Department of Health, 26,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year in Cook County. In order to help them fight their cancer battles closer to where they live and work, we developed an outpatient care center right off Michigan Avenue. The center offers radiation therapy including CyberKnife® radiation therapy, as well as infusion services, medical oncology consultations, surgical oncology consultations, and GYN oncology consultations. Due to a patient’s specific needs, if higher acuity care is needed, they may have the option to treat at our hospital in Zion, where stem cell transplants, interventional and diagnostic radiology and complex surgeries are performed.

The downtown Chicago facility was the first of three outpatient care centers that recently opened under the national CTCA® umbrella. The others are in Arizona — Scottsdale and Phoenix.

I think it’s important to note that Chicago has many academic medical centers and hospitals that provide great clinical care. We see an opportunity to partner with these amazing establishments to provide very specific oncology care, with a goal to help more people beat their disease.

2. What else should people know about CTCA?

The biggest thing is our oncologists’ expertise. They’re board certified and practice evidence-based medicine. We tailor treatment to each patient based on their individual needs. We also offer a range of clinical trials designed to reveal new treatments supported by scientific and investigational research. For example, CTCA is proud to partner with the American Society of Clinical Oncology to participate in the TAPUR (Targeted Agent and Profiling Utilization Registry) study. CTCA is the first and only hospital in Illinois offering this trial. TAPUR is a clinical trial study for patients with advanced cancer that is no longer responding to the standard treatment options or when there is not a standard treatment available for their specific cancer.

3. What characteristics do you look for when hiring?

Like a lot of organizations, our most valuable asset is our people. But because we are serving those who are sick, this is even more true in our case. Health care is a fast-paced and emotional environment. The job is extremely hard to start with, so something we really need, for the good of everyone, is people with positive attitudes and compassion. One thing we do when we interview potential team members is have them interview with actual patients we’re treating. We then get feedback from the patients about whether they would want to be treated by that person. We can often tell a lot simply from an applicant’s reaction to the news they’ll be interviewed by a patient. Do they view it as a great opportunity? Compassion and positivity qualities are a huge part of our culture.

4. Same question, but with strategic partnerships.

Similar to hiring, CTCA partners with organizations that have the same beliefs and values as we do: compassion and positivity. We have allies with cancer care support organizations that help patients get access to care and resources they need when they’re first diagnosed with cancer. We also partner with employers and payors to arm their team members with information about cancer prevention and treatment options. At the end of the day, we look for organizations that are very patient-focused and provide services in a way that our patients find benefit in. We’re trying to wrap as many services as possible around the patient. So the question is, what can a partner offer to patients; how can they help their journeys?

5. Tell us about an experience, or a person, who influenced you?

I’m blessed to have been influenced by a number of people who cared about my success. One is my father, a self-made man who always pushed me and my brothers to do more, but never at the expense of other people. He always had the focus of hard work, integrity and standing up for the underdog.

Pete with his extended family, including his parents, sisters-in-law, brothers, nieces and nephews

6. What’s your favorite work setup – your desk or someplace more informal?

I’m most energized and productive when I work with people in a group setting. There’s a saying that ‘none of us is as smart as all of us.’ I like sharing ideas to create solutions to challenges.

7. Outside of work, what does your perfect day look like?

My perfect day would be with my beautiful wife of ten years, our two daughters, and other family and friends. We’re avid golfers, though not very good. We also love watching the Cubs and just being outside.

Pete with his wife Kate, and daughters Jane (left) and Jillian (right)

8. What books, movies, music or other art/ entertainment/media are you into?

I love to read. I’m a big fan of reading at the end of the night to relax. I keep a pretty big list of books, everything from the classics to suspense. I finally got up the courage at the age of 39 to read Stephen King’s It. I thought that was great. I’m now reading The Russian Five, which is about hockey players that came over to the Detroit Red Wings in the early 1990’s. I grew up in Michigan as a Red Wings fan, so I love having a personal tie to the story.

9. Everyone in business has setbacks. Tell us about one of yours, and how you got past it.

The cost of cancer treatment can be burdensome, and no health care center or hospital is immune. I wouldn’t say it’s a setback, but rather a challenge. Through the outpatient care center additions, including the one in downtown Chicago, we’ve worked to move toward a more convenient and cost-effective model.

10. Separate from your own, what industry are you watching and learning from?

I watch a lot of professional sports teams. I’m fascinated by the interactions and dynamics between high-performing, high-profile athletes and their managers and coaches. I view it similarly to the relationship between a strong physician and their department leaders. Physicians are like high- performing athletes. Patients are like fans who have great appreciation for their skillsets. And the leader, like a coach, needs to support their team by removing barriers to improve performance.

+1: To what one trait would you attribute your career success?

Adaptability. Throughout my career I’ve had a wide variety of roles: finance, health care operations, business development, and consulting. In each role, I adapted and I used my prior knowledge to find success.