Health Partner Profile


David Entwistle Photo

David Entwistle, President and CEO, Stanford Health Care
An interview with Mary Dunbar, Samaritan House

Over the past year, Samaritan House has featured healthcare partner leaders in celebration of their generous financial, in-kind and volunteer support of our Redwood City and San Mateo Free Clinics. We are grateful to the many volunteer physicians, dentists, nurses and other volunteers who have kept our Free Clinics in operation for 25 years. It is through their individual and collective support that tens of thousands of uninsured, low-income patients have received quality, primary and specialty healthcare in San Mateo County.

Stanford has partnered with Samaritan House since 2005. In this feature, we spoke with David Entwistle, President and CEO of Stanford Health Care:

Mary Dunbar: David, Stanford Health Care is one of the most recognized and innovative medical institutions in the country. How did you find your way here?

David Entwistle: I’ve spent my whole career in academic medicine. I started my career at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, then I moved on to the City of Hope in Los Angeles, then to the University of Wisconsin, and most recently, the University of Utah. I just love academics. Stanford Health Care is one of the most recognizable brands among academic medical centers. We are truly unique. There are some innovative things that we’re doing here that aren’t being done anywhere around the country.

MD: David, you’ve accomplished a lot, and you have a track record and deep experience working in large, teaching healthcare institutions. Are there advantages for the patients who receive care in this environment?

David Entwistle: Absolutely, yes. Without a question. Let me share my own experience. I was involved in a bicycle accident and, unfortunately, ended up in the hospital for some period of time, about eight or nine years ago. I was being treated in the academic medical center where I worked. The nice part about being in a large academic medical center is that it has every specialty available. I had suffered a traumatic brain injury — I was in need of a neurosurgeon, a neurologist, interventional radiology, trauma, and all the things that go along with each of those specialties.

The exciting part, and what we feel provides an advantage to the community, is being able to have all of those resources in place for when the patient needs it. Not only will you have access to the very best physicians who are training our next generation, you’ll also have all specialties and services in one place. That’s part of the reason I have only worked in academic medical centers, because I feel so strongly about the comprehensive nature of the care.

Why do we need all these resources? It’s because we’re teaching the next, great, could be neurosurgeon, could be general surgeon, could be oncologist. They are being trained here, and, so, having all the specialties and services is what enables us to train effectively. When you take a look at Stanford in addition to all those things, you don’t just have good medical professionals, you have the very best. Even as you look at national rankings, we’re the top in the country. It’s not that we’re in quest of a prize, but I think it validates what you can get by coming to Stanford, the expertise and the individuals. As you can tell, I’m very passionate about this subject. So, yes, there’s an advantage. And having taken advantage those resources personally, it’s something I feel very strongly about.

MD: What inspired you to choose a career in healthcare administration?

DE: I took three years of Latin in high school. You might be asking yourself “Why did you take three years of Latin going into healthcare?” Actually, I was determined to be an attorney. I went through all the prep work, selected pre-law in my application for college and then did a two year volunteer mission for the LDS Church. While I was out for two years volunteering, and very determined, I met several attorneys. I had the opportunity to interact with them, and thought, “I don’t know if that’s a career I necessarily want to get into.” I had also met several hospital administrators. At the end of the day, I really wanted to be in a field that has a benefit to people. This career really felt like it was the right fit for me.

MD: Community benefit programs provide critical support to organizations like Samaritan House. What kinds of community partnerships does Stanford Health Care engage in on the Peninsula?

DE: We typically look at things that are in alignment with our core capabilities. Every three years, we do a community needs assessment. Stanford does a local assessment as well as a regional, a national and even an international assessment of each population of patients that come here for care. When we look at the local communities that we serve in San Mateo, Santa Clara and several other counties around us, we look at the unique needs in each of those areas. Then we focus on providing care for those specific needs. We also think it’s important for the greater community to have access to care at Stanford, which is why we’ve done so much expansion in the region.

When we are working with our community partners, we look at the things that can help with some of the preemptive community needs to prevent patients from getting to the point where they have to use the emergency room. Whether it’s Samaritan House, or another partner, we want to help provide access to local resources before the patient’s needs become an emergency. As you and I were talking about earlier, sometimes people are reluctant to access services because they are uninsured or lack financial resources. The question is how can we encourage access on their own turf where they perhaps will be more apt to utilize the services versus waiting until they get so ill they need to go to the emergency room? They can be pretty far down the road with an illness when that occurs. We want to help remove that barrier to healthcare access through our partnerships.

MD: Many of the patients that come to us are referred by word-of-mouth, or they’ve heard about Samaritan House because they’ve gone through one of our health partner’s emergency rooms. Through our partnership with Stanford Health Care, and other partners, a crucial patient referral network has been built. We appreciate it. We know that the patients we see are utilizing the emergency rooms less.

DE: We appreciate the partnership too.

MD: I realize that you’re new to the Bay Area, have you had an opportunity to be personally engaged in the community?

DE: Yes, we have. We’d had a number of service activities that we had been involved with, including helping individuals who are elderly with visits and making sure they have their needs met. There’s a sweet lady that my son and I have been working with, she just turned 84, in fact, today! We had the opportunity to see her on Sunday and enjoyed a pre-celebration with her. This is an amazing community, there’s so many wonderful people in it.

MD: Since you arrived in the Bay Area, what’s been a standout experience for you and your family?

DE: We’ve had a lot of great experiences. We spent yesterday with a group of individuals down at Santa Cruz beach, which we had not been to before. That’s probably the most memorable place so far. I love to ride bikes, whether it’s riding in the Sequoia Forest or locally. We’re having a great time here. To get out and see this wonderful community and landscape, it’s amazing.

MD: Thank you so much, David. Stanford Health Care and the community is lucky to have you!

David Entwistle joined Stanford Health Care as CEO in July 2016 with extensive executive experience at leading academic medical centers.  Most recently he served as CEO of the University of Utah Hospital & Clinics (UUHC). He previously served as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin and as Vice President of Professional Services and Joint Venture Operations at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences from Brigham Young University and a Master’s in Health Services Administration from Arizona State University. He also was awarded a postgraduate administrative fellowship at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.