May 25, 2021
Jessica Melton, MHA, a proud alumna and dedicated supporter of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, recently stepped into the role of president and chief operating officer (COO) of Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md.
“Suburban Hospital has an amazing team of physicians and staff members, and an outstanding reputation for delivering some of the most advanced and compassionate patient care to its community,” she says. “I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work at this exciting time in the hospital’s strategic regional growth.”
Melton started the job at Suburban Hospital, which is a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine, on April 15. This position will give her the opportunity to pursue her passion for improving healthcare by directing the operation and administration of a hospital that is nationally recognized for excellence. As well as leading quality and safety programs and financial initiatives, she is responsible for the hospital’s inpatient and ambulatory services and will develop clinical programs throughout the region.
She graduated with a Master of Health Administration degree from the Gillings School in 2007 with a desire to help people by improving systems, which she has accomplished through high-level roles at major healthcare providers. In addition, she supports the Gillings School and its students by serving on the Public Health Foundation Board and through generous philanthropic contributions.
“Jessica has been a very supportive alumna of HPM and Gillings,” said Morris Weinberger, PhD, Vergil N. Slee Distinguished Professor of Healthcare Quality Management and chair of the School’s Department of Health Policy and Management. “Since graduating from our program close to 15 years ago, she has remained engaged by mentoring students and serving as a guest lecturer in a number of our courses. Jessica will bring her years of training and leadership experience to Suburban Hospital, and I’m confident that our students will gain even more from Jessica’s perspective as the COO there.”
Melton says that Hurricane Katrina, which hit on her first day of graduate school, played a large role in convincing her to enter healthcare administration because it showed how the field could engage her interest in anticipating the healthcare needs of vulnerable populations.
As an undergraduate at UNC, Jessica and her husband, Doug Melton, PhD ’10, attended the Research Education Support program, which supported minority students working toward degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). As well as introducing her to public health, this experience honed a commitment to help students from groups historically underrepresented in STEM and inspired the couple’s subsequent philanthropy.
Learning about a lack of diversity in top healthcare leadership positions — and how correcting this problem could lead to more equitable health outcomes — convinced the Meltons to take matters into their own hands. They endowed a new scholarship to support the next generation of healthcare leaders at the Gillings School, deciding that the School’s Department of Health Policy and Management shared their commitment to diversity and the health of vulnerable populations. The Melton Family Scholarship Endowment is designed to support Gillings students, especially women and minorities, to pursue opportunities in healthcare leadership.
“We wanted to do something substantial to give back and further our commitment to improving healthcare, and create a lasting legacy for our family,” said Jessica Melton.
In her previous role, she was chief operating officer of Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Virginia. At Duke University Hospital, she served as vice president of medical, surgical and critical care services; vice president of emergency services and patient flow; and administrative director of emergency preparedness and trauma. She also directed the Duke Preparedness and Response Center.
In 2018 Modern Healthcare magazine named her as an Up & Comer in 2018 for her success building effective teams, and Deloitte called her a Woman to Watch in Healthcare Leadership in 2016. She was also selected to be a Carol Emmott Fellow, a competitive, national fellowship that supports the development and promotion of female healthcare executives.
In her free time, Melton also serves on the boards of the YMCA, Women United and the National Center for Healthcare Leadership, and she mentors undergraduate students, focusing especially on women who are the first in their family to attend college.
Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at email@example.com.