Published August 19, 2003
Volume 11, Number 8

Marcy Feit Takes Her Nursing Skills to the Top at ValleyCare

By George Walsh
Network Editor

Few of us actually go on to become the cowboys, firemen, and movie stars that we aspired to be when we were children, mostly because our interests develop in a different direction as we mature. Marcy Feit always had her sights set on nursing as a child. In her case, however, achieving her childhood dream ended up being only the beginning of a long and rewarding career. It was a profession that would lead her to her position as president and CEO of ValleyCare Health System.

Marcy FeitFeit grew up in the Central Valley, where her father was a rancher for over 50 years. Over the course of the last 30 years she’s lived in Livermore and Pleasanton, and now resides in Alamo. “I’m pretty much a local California girl,” Feit says “I’ve been in this area almost all of my life.”
At a very early age, Feit knew that she would eventually become a nurse. “Ever since I was a little girl, I saw myself as a nurse. I never wanted to be a doctor or anything else. When I would see a nurse, I was just captivated. I wanted to help people. There are emotions I have today about not being able to be a nurse at the bedside. I found it rewarding to help people and care for them. There aren’t always those immediate rewards as CEO.”

Feit achieved her goal of becoming a nurse in 1974, graduating with her registered nursing license and an AA degree from Chabot College in Hayward. While going to school, she worked as a nurse’s aid at Valley Memorial in Livermore.

“I went directly from being a new grad into critical care nursing and was the first new grad nurse that Valley Memorial hired directly into critical care,” Feit says. “That was a really interesting trip. I remained there for a little over six years and then was made the head nurse of the ICU and CCU units.” The head nurse position was Feit’s first management job.

After becoming head nurse of the ICU and CCU units, Feit moved on to manage other departments in the hospital. It was at this point that a mentor helped to guide her toward making what would turn out to be some valuable career decisions.

“At the very top level of nursing administration, most hospitals won’t hire an administrator without a masters degree. My director of nursing had been mentoring me into management positions and I kept taking on bigger and bigger responsibilities. She was also giving me advice about continuing my education to become qualified for higher management positions.”

Feit went back to school in the evenings and on weekends at the California State University campus, where she earned her bachelor’s degree, then continued on to earn her master’s degree from the same school. All the while, she was working full time.

While working on her master’s degree, Feit held the title of director of nursing. She became vice president of patient care services just before she graduated from the master’s program. Things kept progressing for Feit’s career as she held a number of different management positions at ValleyCare Health System. Ultimately, in 1997, the board of directors terminated the CEO of the hospital and Feit was named interim CEO. While the board of directors searched for a CEO, the hospital did a financial turnaround with Feit at the helm. The search was stopped and the position of CEO was offered to her in August of 1997. Feit has held the job ever since.

In her rise through the ranks at ValleyCare, Marcy Feit feels that the help and guidance she’s received along the way were invaluable. In fact, the credit she gives others is a testament to the fact that she believes that everything is a team effort. In addition to Karen Logsdon, the vice president who guided her into management and encouraged her to continue her education, Feit will never forget the first nurses she worked with back in 1974, when she started as a registered nurse.

“In those days, nurses did not work in acute care hospitals straight out of nursing school,” she says. “It was pretty brutal. Without at least two senior nurses at the hospital who decided to take me under their wing, I would not have survived. They were two of the best nurses I’ve ever worked with.”

When she became CEO, Feit relied heavily on the mentorship of Dr. Robert Malstrom, who was chairman of the board the first year she held the hospital’s top position.

“He’s been very supportive of me and the hospital,” she says. “When there was a crisis, he would sit and really help me walk through it. Without feedback, it’s tough when you’re not experienced in that type of position. ValleyCare was in a crisis at the time, so there were a lot of immediate decisions that had to be made. Dr. Malstrom was instrumental in his support for those key decisions.”

From her mentors, as well as the experience she’s gained throughout the years, Feit has learned some lessons that she thinks have helped her to be a successful manager.

“I think being a person of your word is important,” she says. “Your integrity is critical. You can really pull people together and get them to work toward a goal if they believe in you. That starts with who you are, your word, your integrity, and your own work ethic. Sometimes it’s hard because there are easier paths to take, but I wouldn’t want to work for somebody that I didn’t respect and trust.”

Her coworkers at ValleyCare aren’t the only ones who think highly of the work that Feit does. The San Francisco Business Times recently recognized her as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Women for 2003 in the Bay Area. According to the publication, selection of the Top 100 Women was based on position or title, community involvement, other leadership roles, and their impact on others. Other local luminaries receiving the honor include Margaret Sabin, CEO of Marin General Hospital and Novato Community Hospital, Carol Bartz, CEO, president and chair of Autodesk Inc., Laura Alber, president of Pottery Barn, Dr. Sandra Hernandez, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation, and Loretta Lynch, president of the California Public Utilities Commission.

While retirement isn’t yet in the cards for Marcy Feit, she happily sees being CEO of ValleyCare as the top of her game. She has no plans to leave the area, though she does look forward to spending more time with her husband, children, and grandchildren when she completes her run as CEO.

“My interests are here in this community,” she says. “I’ve been connected to this area for so many years. I know a lot of the people here and I’ve been involved with them at a lot of different levels, whether it’s been as their nurse or their supervisor or their neighbor. My passions run very deep in terms of doing something positive in this community.”

If the past is any indication of the future, we can be sure that Marcy Feit will turn this passion into something special.


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