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Fast facts

Hometown: Pasadena, Los Angeles

Education: Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) degree, Master of Public Health (MPH) degree with an emphasis in Epidemiology and Health Services, and Master of Arts in International Relations — all from the University of Washington. Bachelor of Arts degrees in both political science and French literature from the University of California, San Diego.

Hobbies: All-things-outdoors (running, biking, hiking, the beach)

Community service: Has served on numerous boards focused on helping ensure access to care for the vulnerable and marginalized.

San Rafael Medical Center: 116 hospital beds, 2,014 employees

Santa Rosa Medical Center: 173 hospital beds, 3,008 employees

Sonoma-Marin medical office buildings: Downtown San Rafael, Mill Valley, Novato, Santa Rosa (Old Redwood Highway and Mercury Way), Rohnert Park and Petaluma

Tarek Salaway has stepped into some well-known shoes at Kaiser Permanente in the North Bay as the new senior vice president and area manager for the Marin-Sonoma service area, replacing Judy Coffey, who retired on March 1 after more than 30 years of service with the health care institution.

Salaway joins Kaiser after nearly four years with Providence-St. Joseph Health, where he served as CEO of its Mission Hospital campuses in Mission Viejo and Laguna Beach. The Southern California native previously served in key leadership roles at Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital at the University of Southern California.

Salaway is no stranger to Northern California. Earlier in his career, he served as administrative director of cardiovascular and neuroscience services at Stanford Health Care at Stanford University Medical Center.

He joined Kaiser late last year, but his official start date was Feb. 14. The Business Journal met with Salaway on March 1 for a sit-down Q&A, which has been edited for brevity.

What made you want to come back to the Bay Area?

I was contacted by Kaiser’s team and it was really the right timing, and in terms of my family situation as well. All the pieces seemed to align. … I recognized that the model of care that Kaiser delivers and its core mission statement resonates with me, which is they believe in providing value to our members and to our patients, but specifically the long-term relationship for life. That’s distinct.

Is this your first time working for a managed care health system?

It really is. Kaiser is different from the other models of care I’ve been in at Stanford and USC and at Mission-St. Joseph Health. One of the things I’m still learning, but am really impressed by, is we have so much robust information about our patients. And that means that we have way more resources here to really look at how we do prevention with our patients. So that is a very different framework in terms of how you approach your patient-care model.

What are some takeaways from your time with Judy?

She has really informed me about how important the relationships are in our communities that we serve. Certainly there’s some distinction for Sonoma County given everything that has happened — the fires and now the floods — so that’s a community that’s rebuilding and demonstrating an amazing hallmark of resilience. ... We at Kaiser have been committed to that community and we remain steadfast in supporting that.

The needs are very different in Marin. The community is relatively well-off, but certainly the respect for the environment is paramount here, and the arts play an important role. The community is well-educated and discerning, and so that speaks to how we focus our care and meeting the needs of the community. There are still some disparities in Marin County as well, (though) it may not be as big as it is in Sonoma.

You mentioned your transition included working with Judy on the Joint Commission accreditation survey for Santa Rosa Medical Center.

Yes, so every few years hospitals have to get accredited. A team of surveyors come, unannounced, and they look at everything at the hospital. It’s a pretty intense, very rigorous process, so both Judy and I were well involved with getting through the survey. And, of course, as we went through it, obviously I learned a lot from her about how the hospitals and teams operate, so that was a really good handoff process for us.

Fast facts

Hometown: Pasadena, Los Angeles

Education: Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) degree, Master of Public Health (MPH) degree with an emphasis in Epidemiology and Health Services, and Master of Arts in International Relations — all from the University of Washington. Bachelor of Arts degrees in both political science and French literature from the University of California, San Diego.

Hobbies: All-things-outdoors (running, biking, hiking, the beach)

Community service: Has served on numerous boards focused on helping ensure access to care for the vulnerable and marginalized.

San Rafael Medical Center: 116 hospital beds, 2,014 employees

Santa Rosa Medical Center: 173 hospital beds, 3,008 employees

Sonoma-Marin medical office buildings: Downtown San Rafael, Mill Valley, Novato, Santa Rosa (Old Redwood Highway and Mercury Way), Rohnert Park and Petaluma

Do you have any new initiatives in mind?

I’ve seen many similar things that we’re doing here that I’ve done previously. I would add an element or two to certain things, not a radical shift, but allow me six months to get a lot more (settled).

One of the important things in a job like this is the relationship with the physicians. Those are relationships you earn, so for me, I’ve got so much ground to cover yet in building them and learning all the stakeholders who are our physician partners as well.

What are a couple of your proudest achievements at Mission Hospital?

One of the biggest needs in our community and opportunities for Mission to step into was to expand its footprint in oncology and cancer care. We put together a well-thought-out strategic plan and then got approval to build and open a cancer institute. … It’s called the Judy and Bill Leonard Institute for Cancer Prevention, Treatment and Wellness. It’s still in the process of being built and will open about five months from now.

Another accomplishment for Mission Hospital and Mission Laguna Beach was our dramatic improvement. We accelerated our performance and quality to the point where we achieved designation by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top three hospitals in Orange County, and in the top seven in all of Southern California. That really skyrocketed (from the prior year) and was a boost to the morale — certainly to the physicians and the staff — so you can celebrate. Those things are important to me.

Any closing thoughts?

Another thing that’s really important here that I do appreciate is I’m learning a lot from my colleagues — the people who are leading Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, like in San Francisco, Redwood City, Santa Clara, Oakland, San Leandro and Walnut Creek.

For example, I’m going to spend a whole day in Redwood City in the next couple of weeks. Not all Kaisers are the same. Some are just new or different, or they have different programs than we do. So that will be helpful and insightful.