Like a long-lost friend, Dr. Michael O. Gardner has returned to Harris Health System as the new executive vice president and administrator of Ambulatory Care Services, the system’s integrated network of health centers, specialty facilities, clinics and mobile health units. As one of the largest public safety-net providers in Texas, Harris Health focuses on serving the primary care, disease management and prevention healthcare needs of Harris County residents.
Gardner, a board-certified physician in Obstetrics and Gynecology, as well as Maternal Fetal Medicine, has 26 years of healthcare experience. He previously worked at Harris Health from 1999 to 2005 as chief of Obstetrics at the system’s Ben Taub Hospital. Additionally, he served the role of system-wide director of Medical Quality, a department charged with leading the patient safety program, performance improvement initiatives and medical peer review.
“Dr. Gardner has the unique knowledge and experience of working previously for our system, and an impressive résumé of experiences with other public, academic and private institutions from across the country,” says George V. Masi, president and CEO, Harris Health System. “His leadership will be essential to helping Harris Health achieve success in enhancing and improving the primary and outpatient care platform to meet the needs of our county’s residents.”
Gardner believes healthcare is still in the midst of a dramatic national change—one that moves away from inpatient care to one that strongly focuses on outpatient and primary care. He sees this evolving over the next decade and looks forward to adapting to the change.
“We have an obligation to provide high-quality primary healthcare to all who want to use our system and that includes serving those who require sub-specialty outpatient care,” he says. “The question becomes, ‘How do we make sure we have adequate subspecialty clinics and providers, such that we don’t make a false promise to our patients where we don’t have the capacity to provide them with a full-spectrum of services?’”
Though daunting, Gardner welcomes the challenge.
Gardner most recently worked as director of the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital in California. He was previously chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa. Prior to Tulsa, he was chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Grady Health System (a major safety-net provider) and a professor at Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta. In between his education and the start of his fellowship, he served four years in the U.S. Air Force, as a general OB/GYN physician rising up to the rank of major.
He is a licensed physician in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. He received his medical degree from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, and master’s degrees in public health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and medical management from the University of Southern California.
Gardner is also a member of several national peer organizations including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Physician Executives. Additionally, he has authored 42 academic articles and been an investigator in 42 scientific abstracts. He has been an invited lecturer nationally and internationally in the field of women’s health and patient safety.
Gardner is a native Texan and was raised in El Paso. He is married to Dr. Nora Doyle, who assumes a professorship role in Maternal Fetal Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. They live in the Heights and have four grown children (two of whom are graduates from Rice University) and a 14-year-old still at home. Gardner is an avid reader, enjoys exercising and calls himself and his wife tennis parents who routinely attend their young son’s matches.