Meritus Health Recognizes Women's History Month

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The month of March is Women’s History Month. It also marks three years since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the intersection of those two seemingly unrelated events, is Carrie Adams, Pharm.D., Chief Operating Officer at Meritus Medical Center.

Adams made history as she led the organization, and the region, through the dark, unknown early days of the pandemic. The health system established an incident command center, before the first case of COVID-19 hit the community – something that was made possible through Adam’s leadership.

However, her desire to lead and instill leadership qualities in others began long before anyone heard of COVID-19.

“If you asked my mother or my sister, I was a take-charge kind of child, but always a rule-follower; always wanting to do the right thing and always trying to get everyone to get along. I always wanted to build, and build up my team in some way,” Adams says.

During high school, she had already decided she wanted to be a pharmacist. With strengths in math and science, Adams found others doubting she would succeed in a field that few women chose.

“Even a high school physics teacher told me that I’d never make it. In the end, I proved him wrong” she says, adding that she even sent him a newspaper clipping of her accomplishments.

That same mentality has stayed with her throughout her career, most recently as she took the helm of leading the region through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Carrie possesses an unwavering drive for providing the best for our patients and led our teams through the challenges of the COVID pandemic with flawless execution,” Maulik Joshi, Dr.P.H., President and CEO of Meritus Health, says of Carrie’s leadership.

A snapshot of Carrie’s leadership highlights through the COVID-19 pandemic includes:

  • Direction utilizing an incident command center (set up in early 2020)
  • Implemented COVID-19 operations, including the COVID drive-thru testing center for the tri-state area with over 200,000 tests collected/processed with average turnaround time of 12 hours or less
  • Provided clinical operations for the state mass vaccination site for three months

“I’ve always looked to other leaders, specifically women, and I pick things that they did really well that I admired, and I have taken those things with me throughout my career,” Carrie says.

In 2022, Adams participated in the Leadership Meritus program - attending every session and supporting the nurturing of the leaders and their development. Going so far as to do the homework the class was assigned, and she helped spark conversation.

“Carrie helped me a lot through the Leadership Meritus experience, and I know she did the same for other female directors. It’s a great example of her showing up, engaging and supporting,” says Jeannie Constable, Executive Director of Meritus Corporate Communications and the Meritus Healthcare Foundation.

As a member of the senior executive team at Meritus, Adams serves as a mentor to other women in the workforce, helping to build up the next generation of strong female leaders, including Bobbi Hilker, Meritus Medical Center Director of Pharmacy.

“Carrie successfully helps her team achieve their full potential by modeling exemplary leadership behaviors and encouraging those she serves to remain focused on patient care. Carrie consistently maintains a positive attitude when creating solutions with her team, which establishes a space where others can share their opinions and ideas, even under pressure,” Bobbi says.

Carrie is dedicated to finding talent to serve Meritus and its patients. She strives to develop leaders to grow their own strengths, problem solve and to see the bigger picture when project planning. This has been true for leaders such as Heather Markell, Meritus Medical Center Director of Operations, Nursing Division.

“As a female leader in healthcare, Carrie has been an intentional mentor in assisting me to achieve my potential. She has assisted me, identified strengths and successes in my professional journey by providing opportunities to grow. She has mentored self-assurance for me to understand when female leaders are more self-aware they demonstrate confidence in their skills and abilities,” Heather says.

“There are qualities that I try and instill in my mentees and qualities that I look for in others to be good leaders. Three key things come to mind: You have to have grit, you have to be a good listener and you have to do the right thing. Always,” Carrie says.