Philip Reber describes himself as a lifelong team player and says working at a hospital is the ultimate team sport.
“There are a million departments, and they all have to work perfectly together in order for the patient to have that optimal experience,” he said.
Reber is the new chief operating officer at the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. His first day was Dec. 1, and his goal is to make LWRMC the hospital of choice for local residents. Operational efficiency is one of his specialties.
“Learning how to eliminate waste and make sure that we use all of the resources that we have to the maximum capability, this ultimately will directly impact patient care and the patient experience,” Reber said.
Reber lived in Lakewood Ranch while working at Manatee Memorial Hospital as an associate administrator. He now lives in Greyhawk Landing with his wife Amanda and three young daughters.
“I worked with Phil when he was at Manatee, so I was familiar with him there. I got to see how he worked,” CEO Andy Guz said. “Then there was a mutual interest for me to get someone who knew the system and knew about Lakewood Ranch”
Guz said Reber was an easy choice, but Guz wasn’t the only staff member to approve the decision. Anyone who would be reporting to Reber interviewed him, too.
“It was across the board unanimous,” Director of Marketing Lori Boyd said.
Reber, 32, quickly rose through the ranks of the healthcare industry, even though it wasn’t his first choice of careers. He initially went to college to become a chemical engineer.
“I had a big change of heart as I realized I wanted to do things that were more directly impactful on the people in my community,” Reber said. “I find there’s a lot of overlap in the problem solving and mental angles you need to look at things between engineering and this.”
His main priority as COO is to provide patients with the best possible experience, which translates into national recognition and a great local reputation.
“As it grows, I want to be able to go to the grocery store and schools and things that I’m a part of and proudly tell everyone about the great things that we’re doing,” Reber said.
Reber became a COO for the first time at 30 when he was hired to oversee the Northern Nevada Medical Center. He credits his quick climb up the ladder to his wife, who encouraged him through school and is always driving him to improve.
The couple will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary next year. While they enjoyed most of their time in Reno, they’d had enough of the harsh winters in the mountains. Florida weather suits their active, outdoor lifestyle better.
“It was one of those situations where you don’t know how much you love something until you leave,” Reber said. “This is an area that I thought would be great for raising the kids long term.”
The location of the hospital was another draw as LWRMC is positioned in the center of a fast growing community. Reber said his job is more fun and exciting when he’s in a hospital that’s growing and expanding versus one that’s at capacity and somewhat stagnant.
LWRMC is expected to break ground on a new patient tower in the first quarter of 2024. The expansion will add 60 new beds and about 100 new jobs.
In his spare time, Reber enters 5Ks and half marathons. He takes his kids to the beach and on nature walks. Nature photography is another hobby, so he’s usually got a camera slung over his shoulder.
While the job of COO is demanding, Reber insists it’s possible to maintain spare time when you have the right team.
“One of the challenging but exciting things about the hospital is it’s a 24/7 operation. So even though I may leave for the day, the work doesn’t ever stop,” he said. “I can’t do it alone. It’s like a quarterback without an offensive line. You have to have your team with you.”