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Christian Health's Doug Struyk

Shaping Healthcare in Northwest Bergen County

As a young man, Christian Health’s President and CEO, Douglas A. Struyk, CPA, LNHA, never imagined that he would one day be at the helm of a major healthcare organization in northern New Jersey.

Doug grew up in Wayne with his siblings and parents. His father was a college professor, and his mom was a pharmacist who later became a nurse. Upon graduating from Pace University with a BBA and MBA in public accounting, he began his career at Ernst and Whinney (now EY). He was asked to serve as an audit manager for Christian Health, a client of the firm. “I worked on audits in 1988 and 1989, and subsequently, the CEO offered me a position as CFO in 1990.”

“The only healthcare background I had were those two audits and what I learned from my mother and my sister, who is also a nurse.” I developed a strong affinity for the organization, and I had the opportunity to understand what was needed to make Christian Health a better place.

Spearheading new initiatives in the healthcare community was a divergent path from Ernst and Whinney. “I went into accounting knowing that it would expose me to many industries and professions,” says Doug. “The organization was growing quickly, and it was rewarding to bring my accounting skills and abilities to help navigate our growth.” A defining moment was when the State of New Jersey came to us and said they mistakenly over-reimbursed $1 million for Medicaid—and they wanted it back.” Doug’s financial background helped Christian Health prove the State wrong. “They actually owed us $1 million,” he laughs.

Serving as the CEO of a major healthcare organization requires a keen awareness of the current trends and legislation in healthcare. Doug currently chairs the governor's task force recommending legislation to improve the quality and safety of long-term care. He also completed a one-year term with New Jersey Hospital Association. It’s the first time the Association has selected a Chair who is not the CEO of an acute care hospital.

Doug’s commitment to elevating mental health awareness is a strong focus for him and his team. “We are looking at the impact of the pandemic on mental health,” says Doug. “We’ve already been confronted with the physical impact. Now, we are seeing COVID’s effects on mental wellness, such as loss, isolation, and fear. One in five of us will experience a significant mental health episode at some point in our lives. People are comfortable talking about their high blood pressure, broken bones, or cardiac conditions, but how many are comfortable sharing their mental health status? We need to focus on helping people get to a better place.”

The senior living industry also continues to evolve, and more options are available. “It is important to ask residents and clients what they want so that we can meet their expectations,” says Doug.

Christian Health addresses this growing need with its newest retirement community, The Vista. “I’m proud of the services it provides,” he says. “The most common health issues in the older population are depression and loneliness,” says Doug. “Being a part of a vibrant senior community helps remove that risk and replaces it with socialization, independence, and freedom.”

None of these initiatives would be possible without a dedicated staff and the solid interpersonal relationships established at the organization over the years. “We’ve been through COVID, hurricanes, snowstorms, and tragedies together as a team,” Doug says. “It’s an honor when a client's family member stops me to say that they can rest easier at night knowing that our staff provides such great care for their loved one. Our unsung heroes at Christian Health deserve the credit.”

Establishing a culture of appreciation and service excellence at Christian Health is one of Doug’s top priorities. Staff members are encouraged to recognize co-workers who exceed expectations with a special app. The app notifies Doug, and in turn, Doug writes a thank you to the employee. “My daughters have seen me write the notes at home, and they’ve learned the power of a handwritten message,” he says. “I hope I imparted a healthy work ethic to our daughters as they observed how much I enjoy what I do.”

“I always wonder--did my hard work enable me to enjoy my job? Or did I enjoy it so much that I was able to work hard? It makes a difference when you do something you love.”

christianhealthnj.org

  • Employee Service Awards - Amanda Zunick, Douglas A. Struyk, John Browne, Teresa Durantino, Kristin Dykhouse Gelenter, Heather Porcaro, and Dawn Heflin
  • The Vista Ribbon Cutting- Patrick Duffy, Douglas A. Struyk, Rick DeBel, Rudy Boonstra, Richard Goldberg, and Randy George
  • Employee Service Awards - Doug Struyk, Steve Van Heemst, Marianna Acri, and Kevin Stagg
  • Douglas A. Struyk, President and CEO, Christian Health