In just over four years as president and chief executive officer at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Paul Viviano has focused on expanding services to provide compassionate, world-class clinical care to more children in alignment with organization’s mission, vision and values.
You can find one example just around the corner from his office.
In January 2016, the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation Interfaith Center opened at the hospital, with Archbishop Jose H. Gomez delivering its first blessing. The word “peace” spans the top beam in six languages—emblematic of CHLA’s commitment to the many spiritual needs of patients, families and workforce members.
“Sometimes, you have to go a long way to find solitude in this city,” Viviano said.
Viviano is a nationally recognized child health advocate, and the power of faith and prayer instilled in his life, as well as his ability to run an internationally prominent health care organization—stems from an upbringing as a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in La Habra. When the Medicaid reform debate arose in 2017, Viviano penned several nationally-published op-eds defending children’s health care.
“We grew up with a desire to help and support others. While I didn’t have an interest in being a clinician, I saw leadership opportunities that could translate to the health care setting and fell in love with the notion of supporting caregivers to improve the health of a community,” says Viviano, an active parishioner for more than 30 years at St. Bonaventure Catholic Parish in Huntington Beach with his wife Carole, where they raised two daughters and have four grandchildren.
Viviano joined CHLA in late 2015 after serving as President and CEO of the UC San Diego Health System; as Chairman and CEO of Alliance Healthcare Services; and as President and CEO of USC University Hospital and USC Norris Cancer Center. Paul also spent 14 years helping lead the health care ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange in the St. Joseph Health System. He procured his undergraduate degree at UC Santa Barbara and earned a master’s from UCLA.
Under Viviano’s leadership, CHLA has grown to accommodate nearly 600,000 patients a year. It is now the No. 5-ranked hospital for children and a national leader in pediatric research and education, all while still serving as the pediatric “safety net” in Southern California and beyond, caring for all patients regardless of circumstance.
Viviano notes CHLA was one of the first hospitals to publish research showing that involving a family in a child’s care plan can directly impact health outcomes. “Our role isn’t just to provide outstanding care clinically and scientifically with treatments and cures, but also to do so in a highly compassionate setting, which includes providing for the spiritual support of families,” Viviano says. “In that context, it helps patients recover more quickly.”
In 2016, Viviano became Loyola Marymount University’s chair of the Board of Trustees. LMU president Timothy Law Snyder called Viviano “an inspiring leader … who brings an extraordinary record of success and accomplishment, which will continue to benefit our university.”
Viviano first connected with LMU some 10 years earlier, when he asked to chair its new bioethics institute. He considers LMU “a unique experience that combines a Jesuit education and a Marymount-based setting where the focus is on the whole person, to promote justice and serve others, which resonates with my personal set of values.”
A water sports enthusiast, Viviano sees his love of the outdoors as a “great way to reflect and appreciate what God has created. Those moments of reflection and inspiration allow me to focus on what good we can do for others.”
Viviano’s office is filled with photos, sports memorabilia and awards. Among the California and Congressional commendations, recognition of his commitment to diversity and awards from alma maters, a small plaque sits on his desk reading: “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.” Lynda Boone Fetter, a CHLA Foundation Trustee and former Board of Directors Co-Chair, says that describes Viviano perfectly: “What I see as one of his strongest, more endearing qualities is it’s never about him. He’s always bringing teams together in this way for a rising tide.
“Paul has the ability to lead in a very large way, but where he seems to thrive most is down on a one-on-one with children, with patient families, [where he can] look them straight in the eye and listen to their joys and their pain and really empathize… From my standpoint, it comes from his sense of faith, born with a strong sense of purpose and need to express his God and spirituality every day with everything he does.”