Eric Brigante – Nashoba Valley Medical Center
For Eric Brigante, the adage “without hard work nothing grows but weeds,” sparks memories of his childhood. As early as five years old, Brigante was working full time on his family’s vegetable farm in Vermont, where he spent many a long summer day learning the importance of building honest relationships—ones built on mutual integrity.
What’s more, the ritual of working long days, waking up before the sun rose and not stopping until sunset, ingrained in him a strong work ethic—one that continues to drive him in his latest role as director of facilities management at Nashoba Valley Medical Center.
“Growing up on a vegetable farm helped me develop personal traits that have influenced my work ethic today,” says Brigante. “There’s nothing like hands-on experience.”
Adapting in trying times
Nashoba Valley Medical Center is a community hospital serving 16 communities in north central Massachusetts. A member of Steward Health Care, the largest private, tax-paying, physician-led healthcare network in the U.S., NVMC has 115 active and associate member physicians offering community-based primary care and specialty services.
Nashoba Valley’s clinical offerings include emergency medicine; fully digital, state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging; cardiology; gastroenterology; oncology; orthopedics and general surgery.
Like many hospitals around the world, the pandemic has put a lot of pressure on Nashoba Valley to adhere to new regulations—on the local and state levels as well as those adopted by health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control.
For his part, Brigante is helping the Ayer, Massachusetts-based hospital navigate these ever-changing regulations. He’s also working with community public safety officials to ensure the hospital is taking a holistic approach to patient wellness: giving the right care at the right time in the right location.
“At the end of the day, our goal is to provide a safe and healthy location for patients to receive care in their community,” Brigante notes. “Everything revolves around that.”
His team includes 11 direct reports and another 50 indirect reports, encompassing everything from planning and design to construction, plant operations, clinical engineering, telecommunications, emergency management and environmental services.
Heading into 2021, Brigante anticipates addressing infrastructure needs and how Nashoba Valley can build out to optimize community care. Among the upcoming initiatives are ongoing program development and processes to align with community needs, regulatory requirements and enterprise goals.
A passion for purpose
While April 2020 may not have been the most opportune time to start a new job in hospital facilities management, Brigante saw it as a chance to apply all he’s learned as COVID-19 stretched resources and staff.
“You have to be a different breed to be in healthcare management,” he says.
The healthcare industry is a field Brigante believes is for people who are interested in purpose-driven work—being responsible for the well-being of vulnerable communities such as the highly acute patients that NVMC cares for.
“Being in health care really needs to be more about the greater purpose behind what you’re doing,” he adds. “You need to have a drive to support community, support a population and care for people.”
Brigante began his career straight out of high school, spending 10 years at a general contracting firm in Vermont, where he learned the intricacies of the healthcare industry and got hands-on experience.
He managed projects ranging from small maintenance repairs to multimillion-dollar renovations and additions.
“While regulations within the healthcare environment are extensive, there’s nothing more rewarding than being part of an industry that wholeheartedly addresses the needs of our patients and community,” Brigante notes.
He then became a project construction manager for a community hospital in northwestern Vermont, where he orchestrated a $30 million campus expansion project—doubling the size of the inpatient wing and creating single occupancy rooms. The project affected about 40,000 square feet and included the addition of a 50,000-square-foot medical office building and a new entryway to the campus.
Brigante credits his expertise to years of hands-on experience and his unconventional route to leadership roles, which he managed without the typical education, although he has achieved accreditation from the American Hospital Association, in addition to being a certified healthcare facilities manager and a certified healthcare constructor.
“The journey my career has taken me on has proved to me that true desire, passion and education can take you places that you never dreamed,” Brigante explains. “Experience was my teacher, and it’s paying off pretty well.”
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