Walls new NMC chief medical officer
- August 5, 2016
From The Californian
SALINAS, CA (August 5, 2016) – Natividad Medical Center announced that Dr. Craig Walls M.D., Ph.D., is its new chief medical officer. The appointment was effective July 25 and announced on Thursday.
In this role, Walls oversees a team of 360 providers including physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
Walls, 49, replaces interim chief medical officer Dr. Peter Chandler M.D. Before that, the position was held by current Natividad CEO Dr. Gary Gray D.O. from April 2009 to September 2015.
Walls has worked at Natividad since 2006, spending nearly a decade as an emergency room physician. He’s held several positions, including medical director of the emergency department.
In an interview on Friday, Walls said he applied because he is passionate about community health, especially for underserved populations. He holds a doctorate in community health from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
He said his years in the emergency room help him in this role.
“As an ER physician, I’ve had the pleasure of knowing all the different services. As an ER doctor, you interact with every sort of service,” Walls said. “I’ve had the good fortune of meeting and working with all the doctors here. I already know these men and women. It is kind of well-suited for ER doctors to be in this sort of role.”
Walls also said he’s been a close observer of the hospital’s new status.
“For the past few years, we’ve all seen a transformation of the medical center. I had a ringside seat to see that,” he said. “I believe the biggest changes are still to come. The future of the center is very bright.”
A significant change is the shift to a population health management model that emphasizes performance outcome for a sizable population. The goal of the model is to improve the health outcomes of an entire population by monitoring patients in that group.
As Natividad’s CMO, Walls said he plans to add and expand services for the community. For example, Natividad launched the level 2 trauma center in January 2015. The center treated 1,397 people in its first year of operation.
Walls earned his medical degree and doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He completed his residency in emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins University, and joined Natividad after working as an ER physician at MacNeal Hospital in Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart, Ill.
Walls and his wife, an attorney, relocated to Monterey County after she completed her clerkship. The couple were deciding where to settle down.
“We said what’s the nicest place that we can think of? Monterey Bay. And there was a job available in Salinas,” Walls said.
The couples live in Watsonville and has four children.
The county-owned and operated Natividad Medical Center has 172-beds and serves many Salinas residents. The hospital has 1,070 employees, of which 901 are full-time.