Person of the Year

Humanity essential to Butler’s rise in healthcare

Dr. Monique Butler (at microphone) was one of the keynote speakers when FAMU and HCA Florida announced a scholarship initiative earlier this month.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine
Dr. Monique Butler

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer

 Monique Butler was close to wrapping up her studies to become a medical doctor, when she befriended Juliette Okotie-Eboh. That’s been more than two decades ago.

These days Dr. Butler is near the pinnacle in healthcare as an administrator and currently holds the title of Chief Medical Officer of HCA Healthcare North Florida Division. The position brought her to Tallahassee earlier this year, after several stops along the way.

A native of Inkster, Mich., Butler met Okotie-Eboh in Detroit in the late 1990’s.

That Butler has made major advances in her career since they first met doesn’t surprise Okotie-Eboh.

“She’s got drive and ambition and she is candid,” Okotie-Eboh said during a recent telephone interview. “She moves through life well. She is very grounded and she knows what it takes for her to get to where she needs to go. I like that about her.”

Butler’s rise and her impact on millions of lives make her a choice for Person of the Year by the Capital Outlook. She shares the honor with Vince Long, Leon County administrator.

“I’m humbled and appreciative,” Butler said. “It’s an honor.”

A release that announced Butler’s move to Tallahassee, said she previously was Chief Medical Officer for HCA Healthcare Continental Division’s Swedish Medical Center, a part of HCA’s HealthONE. It went on to say that her role in that position was to promote a mission-driven approach to patient care with a team of 2,000 colleagues, 500 volunteers and more than 1,400 physicians.

That sense of humbleness that Okotie-Eboh recognized early on is a trait that Butler started to develop in the early stages of her career. 

“The thing that’s so amazing about her is everybody doesn’t get it all but she is pretty close to it,” Okotie-Eboh said. “She is an amazing scholar but she also has great emotional intelligence. She is very cognizant of her humanity and those that she deals with.” 

Butler is a graduate of the University of Michigan and received her medical training at Wayne State University School of Medicine, according to the release. She was also a chief medical resident of internal medicine at Detroit Medical Center, where she was president of the resident council at Sinai-Grace Hospital.

Her list of credentials doesn’t stop there. 

Butler also completed a Master of Business Administration from the University of Tennessee Physician Executive MBA program and holds a clinical assistant professorship appointment at Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, the release stated.  

She is also a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, the American College of Physicians and the American Medical Association. 

Being in-charge of HCA Healthcare North Florida Division makes Butler responsible for the operation of 15 hospitals that are located in Pensacola through Gainesville to Orlando. It’s a different place from where she was as a practicing physician and saw one patient at a time.

But even now when the bottom line could figure into growth of a healthcare agency, Butler doesn’t shy away from making the human factor a priority.

“We are in the human business, there is not another industry where the level of taking care of people and having empathy and caring about them like they’re your family; there’s not another industry like that,” she said. “It’s nothing like healthcare when people come to you in their most vulnerable state so the key to making sure that we have the compassion that connects with care that our families and patients need and deserve is understanding this: great quality and great service begets great business. 

“So the key to making sure that we are giving compassionate care is ensuring that the CEO of each of our hospitals realize that when you have a great level of quality and the patients are happy about the care and the communication that they’ve received and the follow up they’ve received, then the word gets out and the ability to take care of more patients and having a higher bottom line become cyclical.”

As demanding as her job can get, Butler makes time for family. Taking her daughter, Brooke, to school every day is part of her routine. Her husband Steven is an integral part of family time such as movie night and when they travel.

Butler credits her parents for keeping her and her siblings on a straight path. Most times they used biblical quotes, she said, but just as important was hearing her mother asked “What is the largest room in your house?”

The answer? “There is always room for improvement.”

Butler recalled that she was just a child when she started developing interest in medicine. While her siblings would play house with their dolls, she’d pretend to be listening for the doll’s heart beat. 

There are other memories that Butler cherish like the season that Inkster High School won the state championship. She played power forward on the team, and by her account she still knows how to maneuver under the basket.

Jack and Jill remains one of the civic organizations that she’s a member of. But before coming to Tallahassee she was recognized among Women Who Soar honorees by the Northwest Douglas County Chamber. Additionally, she was voted A Woman of Excellence in STEM careers in Michigan, recognized as one of Michigan Chronicle’s 40 under 40, and was identified in Becker’s Hospital Review as one of the 50 great African American leaders in healthcare to know in the nation.