Springfield, MO

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2015 Men of the Year Honoree: Jay Guffey

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Jay Guffey knows how to maximize skills – be it his own, his staff or those of Springfield Public Schools children. As chief operating officer for Mercy Hospital Springfield, Guffey gets the job done.

“It has always been my philosophy that leadership is best accomplished by investing in those who carry out the work and supporting them by getting the roadblocks out of the way,” he says. “When someone is allowed to maximize their skills as a leader, you can combine the skills of your team together.”

During his 37 years with Mercy, Guffey has led multiple difficult tasks. He recalls an assignment in 2004 to recruit and hire a clinical team from within Mercy to build its electronic health records system.

“No matter where you go in the four states Mercy serves, the EHR is the same,” Guffey says of the system. “It also had to be done in a timeline that had not been accomplished in the health care industry before without negatively impacting the operations.”

Through maximizing the skills of a dedicated team of physicians, nurses, therapists, technicians and information technology professionals, Guffey got it done.

With Mercy since 1978, he has worked in the Queen City on and off, returning most recently in 2010 to take on the COO role and tackle his chief concern – recruiting and retaining long-term health care workers. As the population ages, Guffey believes the need only will grow, making him want to energize young people to join the industry. The result is the Mercy Health Sciences Academy, a partnership with SPS, in which 50 eighth-grade students attend classes at Mercy every day during the 2014-15 school year.

“Many students shared stories of how the year had positively impacted their lives, as well as influenced their decision around future health care careers,” he says.

The program began its second year this month. During the coming year, Mercy also will partner with Missouri State University to open a clinical campus that will serve as a training site for students in the health sciences program.

Guffey’s ability to maximize skills also extends to his work in the community. Through a close friendship with Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller, Guffey has traveled across the Americas helping develop new Habitat communities in Haiti and the central United States.

In 1988, a local Habitat chapter formed and Guffey became a board member with the goal of raising funds to build homes locally.

“I approached Mercy to build a home in honor of the Sisters of Mercy’s 100th anniversary in Springfield,” he says. “Through Mercy co-worker donations, we were able to raise enough money to build the house. Co-workers also donated hours in the construction.”

Guffey didn’t stop there. Mercy continued to build one house per year for the next 10 years, with Springfield’s Habitat for Humanity purchasing land west of town for the development now known as the Model Community for Affordable Living.

Along with Habitat, Guffey lists 18 other community activities and board memberships on his resume, including serving as board chairman of the Rainbow Network Nicaraguan Outreach Ministry, which helps provide health services, education, housing and economic development in 111 communities.

“Supporting the needs of those who are economically disadvantaged has been an ongoing service area for my family,” he says.


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