Akron Children’s pays tribute to long-time administrator Mark Watson


Akron Children’s Hospital has named its Center for Operations Excellence after retiring hospital executive Mark Watson.

Watson, who will retire July 1 with 45 years of service, most recently served as Akron Children’s regional network president.

Akron Children’s Center for Operations Excellence uses the principles of Lean Six Sigma to improve processes, eliminate waste, standardize work and bring a culture of continuous improvement to Akron Children’s growing hospital system. Watson created it in 2008 when he was chief operating officer.

“Mark’s legacy will live on with the Mark A. Watson Center for Operations Excellence, which delivers simple, cost-effective solutions, resulting in better patient care and organizational quality,” said Bill Considine, president and CEO of Akron Children’s. “It’s been a huge success and a fitting final act for a person who had already contributed so much to Akron Children’s during his distinguished career.”

One successful Lean Six Sigma project helped organize the sterile processing department, enabling the hospital to avoid a proposed $3.5 million dollar expansion while also increasing the number of surgeries able to be performed. Other projects improved patient access to MRIs and helped a lab reduce overtime pay while keeping up with increased demand. No jobs have been lost.

Watson joined Akron Children’s in 1965 as a lab technician while taking classes at the University of Akron on the GI Bill. He went onto supervise the labs and was instrumental in computerizing systems so doctors and nurses on the patient floors could see results quickly and without having to make a phone call. In the ensuing years, he helped develop pediatric specific specimen protocols and worked closely with Akron’s two adult hospitals to avoid duplication in lab services.

In 1993, Watson ensured that all equipment, furniture and, most importantly, every patient was safely moved to Akron Children’s newly-constructed hospital, which coincided with the hospital’s centennial. He was named a vice president shortly after.

Two years later, he oversaw the creation of Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics, a network of pediatrician offices. Beginning in 1995, 15 offices opened in five years and 20 should be open by next year. The network helped reverse a projected shortage of private practice pediatricians in Northeast Ohio.

“Words will never adequately capture my personal admiration for Mark’s belief in the mission of Akron Children’s, his advocacy for the families we serve, and his pride in our people,” said Considine. “Mark’s leadership is a gift that will continue giving through our day-to-day activities.”

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