Pete Delgado began working at nine years old. His father owned a trash hauling company, and young Delgado’s duties included not just mopping and sweeping, but also acting as an interpreter, delivering invoices, and picking up checks. He so enjoyed the hospitals on his father’s client list that after serving in the military, he completed a degree in hospital management then reached out to the hometown hospital chief executive officer he had presented invoices to as a kid to ask for an internship. “He rolled out the red carpet for me,” Delgado says.
From there he worked his way up through several hospitals to become president and chief executive officer of Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System (SVMHS).
Delgado likes to tell this story about picking up a broom at nine years old because, he says, “It’s a reminder that no one does it by themselves.” In his seven years at SVMHS he has turned around the once-struggling healthcare system, but he doesn’t take all the credit. “It’s not me. It’s my talented team that does the heavy lifting and executes strategies as planned. We invest heavily in their development and provide appropriate management tools.”
But Delgado is clear about his own role. “What does the president do?” he asks, before immediately answering his own question. “Drives change in culture with a focus on quality and safety. I try to create an environment where our staff can thrive! We’ve implemented working values called STAR (support, teamwork, accountability, respect). We identified appropriate behaviors for each value and incorporated them within everyone’s evaluation. This accounted for 50 percent of their evaluation.”
When Delgado started seven years ago, he says, employee engagement scores sat in the 6th percentile. Delgado set out to win the hearts and minds of his staff and worked hard to win their trust. They’ve since climbed to the 82nd percentile. “They like what they do, where they work, and feel valued,” he says of his employees.
Pete Delgado and his team have significantly increased access to medical care for thousands of families. He directed the growth of Salinas Valley Medical Clinic—a network of physician practices with more than 150 providers—which now provides access to care for everyone, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.
Under Delgado’s leadership, Salinas Valley Memorial has created adult and pediatric diabetes centers, a state-of-the-art infusion center, a primary care clinic in Gonzales, and a mobile health clinic that brings medical care into underserved areas of our county, with no charge to patients.
In addition to the hospital, the healthcare system has grown to include thirteen urgent care centers, outpatient facilities and clinics, physician practices, and services throughout the county. Delgado also led the effort to bring the Blue Zones Project to our community, designed to transform health through policy and other changes, helping people live longer, healthier lives.
“What does the president do? Drives change in culture with a focus on quality and safety.”
And Delgado never forgets the bottom line. “Don’t take your eye off the financial ball,” he says. “At the end of the day, no matter what type of hospital you are, you have to have more revenue than expenses. No margin, no mission.”
Delgado has been very active in the community, too, having served on the board of directors for Rancho Cielo Youth Campus for the last six years. He is also a member of the Salinas Downtown Rotary, and he serves on boards of several healthcare industry organizations. When he is not working or volunteering, Pete indulges in his true love—performing mariachi music.
Pete Delgado’s ability to execute his vision for healthcare has benefited the communities in the region.