Lisa Fohey Lisa Fohey, CMRP    

Director of Supply Chain, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI    

Joined AHRMM in 1996

One of the first things to strike you about Lisa Fohey is that this woman has a lot of energy. Good energy! She is focused, determined, active, and ready for whatever the day is going to bring her way. So it wasn’t too surprising to learn that this Director of Supply Chain has also served as a professional dancer for an NBA team (Milwaukee Bucks), or that she teaches group exercise classes 3-4 days a week in addition to her full-time job. However – it was still impressive! In fact, everything Lisa likes to do in her free time is an action verb – biking, kayaking, gardening, teaching group body toning, and “keeping up with the lawn.” She seems to get her energy from spending it.

Lisa oversees supply chain activities for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin (CHW) in Milwaukee, where her team is responsible for making sure that clinicians and providers have the products, services, and technology they need to deliver quality care at the best value to kids, which includes:

  • Sourcing
  • Procurement
  • Receiving
  • Pick/pack
  • Par level replenishment at the hospital and off-site clinics/surgicenter
  • Par level management (inventory control)
  • Bedside restock
  • Equipment cleaning
  • 24/7 supply hotline
  • Transportation (courier services and freight)
  • Linen services
  • Mail and Copy Center
  • Record retention coordination
  • Coordination of contracting and value analysis programs

She has been in her current role for two years, but altogether Lisa has worked 24 years of her career at this hospital. She recently came back to CHW after working for a large med/surg distributor and a supply chain software consulting firm for 12 years. All in all, Lisa has worked in healthcare for 35 years; 27 of those in supply chain. She is enjoying the challenges of her position at CHW, and is wholly committed to helping her organization fulfill its mission to have the healthiest kids in the country.

While she enjoyed consulting, she felt one step further removed from the patients and the actual delivery of healthcare services. She also wanted the opportunity to implement some of the strategies and ideas that she had spent so much time advising others on. She learned a lot from her time on the vendor-side, and it has informed the way she approaches her job overseeing supply chain – most prominently being that there is no one way to do things; there are guiding principles, but no one right way. “Each supply chain group has to set their priorities and plan of attack based on the organization’s internal priorities and strengths, and the skill sets of people in their employ,” notes Lisa. “Many opportunities will depend on existing relationships between departments, administrative buy in, etc.” Her job allowed her to be exposed to many different business models as she traveled from hospital to hospital all over the country – to big and small, private and public, rural and urban settings. She feels privileged to have had that exposure and experience.

Lisa is passionate about her job and her work in healthcare supply chain. When asked her favorite part of the job, she countered “It’s difficult to choose just one!” She enjoys strategic planning and implementing/executing all facets of the plan as well as the project management aspects. And she deeply appreciates the opportunity to train and coach individuals in their roles and assist in her staff’s career growth and professional development.

Lisa feels strongly about the power of professional education to assist people in their field, which is why she served on AHRMM’s Education Committee from 2010-2014, and chaired that committee from 2011 – 2013. During that time she helped develop the CQO project plan for education for AHRMM.

Lisa is an enthusiastic AHRMM supporter, citing the Knowledge Center, leading practices, mentoring, and the ListServ as some of her favorite go-to resources. She finds the greatest value, however, in the AHRMM conference, having attended every one for the last 10 years. “AHRMM’s annual conference is incredible!” says Lisa. “The access to other practitioners and leaders in supply chain and the opportunity to see and learn about new products and services in the industry is unparalleled. I love the interplay between audience and speakers and the unlimited networking possibilities with my peers.”

In fact, the networking opportunities are what keeps Lisa coming back to AHRMM year after year. Lisa said she had no idea how much there was to learn from how other healthcare supply chains operate all over the country until she had a chance to experience it! It made her especially grateful for her time on the vendor side, with the opportunity to travel around the country and talk to folks outside of CHW. Since returning to the hospital she’s acutely aware that she no longer has the networking built into her job and that she needs to create it, both for herself and for her team. AHRMM gives her access to that.

If Lisa has to pick one thing that is most challenging about her job it is balancing priorities. “We can do anything, but we cannot do everything. And it’s so hard to say “no” to a good idea!” Lisa believes that most successful organizations have developed good muscles for saying no. If something moves up the priority scale, something must come down – balance. “You have to give yourself permission to say ‘this is not going to happen until XXX gets done.’ And that is very hard to do – you don’t want to be labeled as problem or seen as inflexible, but it is too easy to get distracted by new things.”

Lisa has benefitted from having some wonderful mentors and people who have supported and helped her along the way. She credits Gary Colpaert, her boss’s boss her first time at CHW for demonstrating effective leadership. His capacity for staying calm and reasonable in times of intense stress made a significant impression upon her. He also developed and honed her confidence by posing questions and helping her to think things through from different angles and more critically, allowing her to come to her own conclusions. Kathy Benn is another key influencer. Kathy was a peer to her boss at Cardinal Health and was instrumental in helping Lisa learn to navigate her way from having worked in a 200-bed children’s hospital to a fortune 26 company, and understand the politics involved in being part of a shareholder company. But perhaps no one has had as big an influence on Lisa’s life as her mom. “It rarely occurs to me I can’t do something – I learned that both from her example and from the ways she encouraged us to reach and explore.”

Lisa’s favorite motto and words she strives to live by: “Thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become habits, habits become character.” Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is definitely in good hands with AHRMM member Lisa Fohey.