Schuster has just completed a 12-month tenure as CEO of Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association in one of the most challenging times for the industry. Hospital managers are struggling with staff shortages, especially with high burnout rates. They have encountered budgetary problems when increasing salary levels or turning to outside contractors. Lawmakers in November allocated $350 million from an economic development bill to help cash-strapped hospitals. But that money can only go so far.
Working with the MHA staff under the direction of the Chief Executive Steve Walsch, Schuster is carving out an ambitious agenda for the association. Her to-do list includes returning to the State House for further assistance, tackling provider burnout and health inequalities, increasing the state’s behavioral health hospital bed capacity, and working with state officials to build a talent pipeline to fill open foster care positions and other jobs necessary to fill. These problems existed before COVID-19, but the pandemic has exacerbated them all. An avid chess player, Schuster understands the parallels between her pastime and her profession when it comes to thinking through the various consequences that could follow any big move.
Schuster started out in healthcare as an ICU nurse, but she says she drove her manager insane with ideas for efficiency. After five years she did her MBA at the University of Chicago State School of Businessand then went into health consulting at Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC). She returned to the hospital scene in the 1990s in senior positions with a for-profit provider teaching healthcareand then for the now-closed Quincy Medical Center.
“The nurturing part of my background is always there, always a reminder of the human side of it,” Schuster said. “I get these [business] Side of it: ‘no money, no mission.’ But I think there is a way to balance that so you can really take good care of the patients.”
Her nearly two-decade tenure at the helm of Emerson is notable in part because the hospital has remained independent despite years of industry consolidation, despite having strong clinical ties to the hospital Mass General Brigham Group.
Schuster originally got involved with the MHA at the suggestion of Andrew Dreyfusthe former managing director Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. (Prior to Blue Cross, Dreyfus was an executive with the hospital group.) She served on the board for three years ending in 2008, and she returned about six years ago.
She is regularly asked whether she suffers from burnout herself, especially during the stress of the pandemic. Don’t worry, she tells them.
“If you’re having fun with what you’re doing, it’s not really like work,” Schuster said. “Also, . . . I feel like I’m working with great people trying to solve really tough problems.”
Tesler brings expertise back to school
James Teslar goes back to school.
Tesler had been one of them Charlie Bakerduring most of the former governor’s eight-year tenure in the State House, including most recently as Baker’s Secretary of Transportation. Now with Gina Fiandaca in this role for Maura Healey‘s administration, which Tesler is headed for Harvard University.
Tesler joined Harvard this month as a part-time visiting fellow at the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at Harvard Kennedy School. He will mentor masters students, write and convene groups to discuss public policy issues.
He recently filed a disclosure with the state Ethics Committee, which he interviewed for the job, because he was working with Harvard regarding the realignment of the Mass. Pike in Allston interacted. But this new grant bears no relation to Harvard’s grand development vision for the neighborhood.
“I’m really looking forward to connecting with the students and faculty and sharing their ideas and sharing some of the things I’ve learned in my time as a government official,” said Tesler.
Percelay has questions for the planning manager
mayor Michelle Wu’s top planner, Arthur Jemisonfound himself back in the hot seat defending the Wu government from the commercial real estate industry.
In a forum of Westin Copley Place last week hosted by industry publication Bisnowdeveloper Bruce Percelay showered Jemison with questions about administration policies — including the return of rent controls, raising affordable housing requirements for developers, raising fees for lab projects. Percelay also wanted to know how City Hall can help revive a dying downtown.
As Jemison boldly responded to the questions, he made it clear that he understood the challenges developers face, especially with interest rates rising, and signaled an openness to ideas from the people in the room.
“Without question, Arthur has been able to hear the collective concerns of the Boston real estate industry and hopefully will share those concerns with those in power,” Percelay later said.
The real estate industry is frustrated by unanswered calls left at the mayor’s office. But Jemison keeps the conversation going: Percelay and Jemison already made plans to meet and continue the discussion after the event ended.
Rough weekend for Regan
It’s been a tough weekend for Regan Communications. Like many companies that North End based PR company had a loan with Silicon Valley Bankand wondered who would get the next mortgage check for the office when the SVB was taken over by the government.
But there was another bank-related turn for Regan, this time with a robbery attempt.
It turned out that a black Regan’s Chevy Tahoe was somehow linked to an attempted robbery of the Citizens Bank branch at the Stop & Shop in Dorchester’s South Bay Shopping Centre. The Tahoe was part of a fleet of 10 company cars that Regan Communications keeps parked in a lot at Union Wharf but was stolen just late last week.
The alleged bank thief was caught during a routine traffic stop on Saturday night. George Reganthe PR firm’s founder said he expected damage to the car to be covered by insurance.
“I was told the car was completely ransacked,” Regan said. “Between all of that and trying to figure out who we’re going to mortgage one of our office apartments to, it’s been a bad time in Union Wharf.”
Iron Man takes a seat on Aura’s board of directors
As Tony Stark, actor Robert Downey Jr. built a high-tech computer system called JARVIS. But how would it compete? auras defense?
Right now, everyone’s favorite Iron Man is betting his money on Aura, a Seaport-based cybersecurity company. The company announced last week that Downey has invested in Aura and taken a seat on its board of directors. As intended, the news brought a lot of attention to the 500-person startup that provides a digital protection platform for consumers. Downey moderated a panel at the South by Southwest conference in Austin on Saturday, which was attended by Aura’s chief executive Hari Ravichandranhe was featured in a Fast company articles about the company and will appear in an Aura TV commercial later this year.
Downey came to Aura through his friend, the film mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg. Katzenberg was already an Aura investor and board member through his VC company. WndrCo.
“I don’t know how being on the board is so helpful — you know, I’m kidding,” Downey told Fast Company. “I have feedback and I think I can help send messages . . . I have a pretty good platform.”
That’s putting it mildly, considering Downey’s platform happens to be a member of Hollywood’s most well-known and lucrative superhero troupe.
Jon Chesto can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.