JHC Notebook: Régine Honoré Villain of Ochsner Health

Ten People to Watch in Healthcare Contracting” honors Régine Honoré Villain of Ochsner Health.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to all those who made the effort to nominate this year’s “Ten People to Watch in Healthcare Contracting.” And thanks to the Ten, who share their insights and experience with The Journal of Healthcare Contracting (JHC) readers this month.

Régine Honoré Villain

JHC: What did you learn about yourself and your team amid the pandemic?

Régine Honoré Villain, MPH, Senior Vice President – Supply Chain Network, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Ochsner Health (Louisiana): I learned there’s a lot of pressure being a leader, because people think that you have the answers. And a lot of times, you don’t – you’re trying to figure it out as well. It takes courage to lead and daring to do things that may seem bold. I learned I was not afraid to do whatever it took.

At the height of this, I was literally on the phone for days in a war room in my home. It seemed like it was the United Nations because I had one phone plugged in to call Malaysia, another was on hold with someone in China, another phone was for a contact in South America, and then I was lining up Australia and Europe, because I wanted to get my hands on products from manufacturers based on the leads that I had gotten. If you also remember that we were compressing 24 hours, especially when dealing with folks in Southeast Asia. Every day, you really lost like two or three days because of the time difference. So, you could not afford to wait until the following day, because it’s already the following day. It was insanity. I learned that we were incredibly bold and incredibly resilient when it came to that.

I also learned my team is compassionate and embracing of the craziness of my leadership because I was asking us to do things that were not quite conventional. But they came through. At one point, I had I stretched myself to the limit. I didn’t sleep for almost four days, and I was starting to get a little bit bleary eyed. I had to stop. I could not do it, even though I wanted to, every fiber of my being was afraid of going to sleep.

Then something happened. I just had a moment, and I leaned into authenticity. I pulled in a couple of my team members and told them “I’m tired. I can’t do this.” I felt pressure to be this kind of superhero, and suddenly, I was just this person who was almost broken because my body could not hold it anymore. Even though in my head, I was fighting to try to stay awake. But I knew I was so tired. I was not thinking straight, I was feeling weak.

They all rallied around me, every level of the supply chain organization. They offered their support, prayers, just to lift my spirit. They gave me permission to be vulnerable and allow my humaneness to shine through. The way they responded was incredibly compassionate, warming. It’s a moment I will never forget. They embraced me virtually and put a hug around me. When you’re faced with difficult times, and when you apply that open mindedness and authenticity with each other and with yourself, things have a way of working out.

JHC: Looking ahead, what project or initiative are you looking forward to working on this year or soon?

Villain: We are in a growth mode. Even through the challenges that we’ve had this year, we are fortunate to be able to be an anchor in the state of Louisiana. We are focusing on the integration of activities and partnerships. We need to make sure that we’re bringing our best and our excellence in everything we’re doing. We’re connecting a lot more closely with our customers. We’re making sure that we’re creating a clinically integrated supply chain operation. We’re connecting with the organization when it comes to all the strategic initiatives. And we’re pushing the boundaries as an organization to meet the needs of the community.

We know that the future of healthcare is going to be in our communities, and if people are home, normally the supply chain operation is not seen as an entity that goes in that direction. But because we’re a facilitator of solutions, and we are those folks who support the tenants of the organization, one of the challenges is to find ways to also be part of that narrative, be part of the solution when it comes to telehealth, digital health, home health, and community engagement. We want to be part of the solution when it comes to resiliency in our communities and figuring out how to help with health and equity. All of these may sound foreign to supply chain, but frankly, we all have a role to play. And I see the role of the supply chain as one that can be pivotal, if acted appropriately.

Read more about Régine Honoré Villain in the JHC August issue