Leading by Example

Dupont Hospital’s CEO uses life experience to guide his leadership.
2/5/2019
Heather Herron
Steve Vorderman

With a friendly smile, an unassuming demeanor and a hint of a southern drawl, Lorenzo Suter is spreading positivity wherever he goes. These days, much of his time is spent at Dupont Hospital, where he’s been the CEO for a little over a year.

His career has taken him from his hometown of Lexington, Kentucky, to jobs in San Antonio, Chicago and Nashville, and now Fort Wayne. The path has been long and winding, but Suter’s goal has always been the same: to make a difference.

“I have a strong philosophical point of view about how to treat people. Partly based on how I was raised. I’m a servant leader. I truly work for the people and it’s not lip service,” Suter says emphatically. 

Raised by his grandmother and single mother, his interest in health care began with a tragedy. The family had a bad experience when his grandmother got sick and ended up in a health care facility.

“I came to the conclusion that maybe I could change it. If that’s the way health care is, or was, maybe I could have an impact and make a change. And that’s what drew me to go down that way,” he explains.

Suter didn’t have many resources. He grew up poor, sometimes went hungry and was even homeless for a short time. With little more than determination and a voracious appetite for learning, he earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing, then enrolled in nurse practitioner school, with his sights set on eventually becoming a doctor. A conversation with an academic advisor caused him to change course, and the rest, as they say, is history.

“That next semester I enrolled to get my master’s degree in health care administration and then went on to earn my Ph.D. in health care administration,” Suter says.

He became a problem-solver, going to underperforming hospitals and spending a few years turning them around. That earned him a reputation for being tough, but fair and empathetic. What ultimately led him to Dupont Hospital was the idea of a new challenge and Fort Wayne’s proximity to his roots. He and his wife April wanted to be closer to family in Kentucky. Since the move, their six-year-old son has been able to spend a lot of time with his grandparents.

When he’s not working, Suter is an avid reader and he’s written three books. He hopes the third, entitled Beat Adversity and Aspire to Live, empowers and inspires readers to set and reach their goals by discarding negative thoughts and embracing a gracious and grateful outlook.

 “It teaches you how to handle adversity, how to channel your frustrations and how to get to peak happiness,” he says.

Those are things Suter has had to learn over the years, and it wasn’t always easy, he says. But the alternative is a waste of energy and time. 

“Life is short,” says Suter. “The perspective I have having been homeless and Section 8 and on food stamps, I’ve learned that you really need to examine the time that you have on Earth because any given day is not promised. Every day we’re given 86,400 seconds and so often people don’t value those seconds and they waste them. It bothers me because I’ve come from such vulnerability, and I can see that if you just have a little tenacity and a can-do attitude versus giving excuses, anything’s possible.”

Suter’s taken that tenacity and can-do attitude and instituted changes at Dupont Hospital that he’s proud of. 

“For example, the employees came to me my first month here and said they wanted an employee gym at no cost. Within a short time, we had an employee gym here at no cost. Did I have to do that? Absolutely not. Is that going to bring in revenue for this hospital? Absolutely not. But the purpose is, I attempt to meet their needs and wants.”

“We have fun here,” he continues. “We’ve been able to forge partnerships with DeBrand Fine Chocolates, Chick-fil-A and Massage Works that are beneficial to both our employees and our guests.”

Suter says those efforts he’s made professionally to enhance the experience at the hospital fall in line with his own personal mantra.

“I’d like to continue to improve on the already stellar services we provide at Dupont Hospital and share with our community all that we have to offer,” Suter says. “I’m also going to feed my mind, body and soul to unleash the inborn drive I have to serve others.”

Dupont Hospital

Address: 2520 E. Dupont Road Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825

Phone: (260) 416-3000

Website: theduponthospital.com

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