When Teri Isacson came to Lee Health in 2005, it was a small health system in a sleepy vacation retirement community. That was before a massive population increase, one that hit Ft. Myers—where Lee Health is headquartered—even before it hit the rest of Florida.
As the population has expanded, so has the hospital system; it’s now the largest public health system in the state of Florida, with over 14,000 employees and more than 2 million patient interactions a year.
Isacson, who first came to Lee Health as a senior system counsel, has worked her way through numerous promotions over the last eighteen years, and now holds the role of vice president and assistant deputy general counsel.
“When you come in as a young lawyer, you’re just looking at the work,” she notes. “But, over time, you’re able to step back and look at the organization as a whole, and that strategic direction really influences your decision-making. It’s a challenge for a young lawyer; you want to evolve to acquire that kind of perspective, and it requires a great amount of thought and effort.”
Isacson has clearly taken the time and effort needed to chart her own direction and to understand what has kept her at Lee Health for so long: it’s a public and not-for-profit entity that takes responsibility for caring for its entire community. “This is a mission-driven organization, and that mission is what keeps me motivated to stay here and come to work every day,” she explains. It’s not just direct patient care, but the opportunities to partner with Florida communities, like providing autism screenings in local schools.
Off the Clock
Teri Isacson has demonstrated a strong ability to evolve into new roles, and in her free time, she has the same enthusiasm for challenging herself. When not providing counsel at Lee Health, the VP and attorney may be engaged in aerial yoga (Cirque du Soleil meets the downward dog pose) or traveling to an ideal surfing destination.
She also recently grew her first successful crop of green peppers—but Isacson says her oldest son and his green thumb deserve more of the recognition in this case.
As her scope has continued to expand over time, she’s found herself working in areas she never imagined, like facilities and construction. As a public entity, Lee Health has to undergo public bidding processes for its building projects due to Florida’s law related to how public entities must engage contractors for its construction projects.
Most recently, Isacson helped secure new land for a hospital facility with some unusual tenants: cows. The land had been vacant for years and faced a multitude of regulatory and zoning complications to navigate. The cows were the least of her worries.
“This was the first hospital construction project that my team and I have been able to be a part of from day one,” she explains. “Just the initial concerns about elevation, water management, and zoning were projects unto themselves. As we move forward, it’s our job to ensure that we facilitate interaction between senior leaders, our facility department, and the board.”
This is the kind of evolution and consideration the VP is talking about. Construction projects led to more frequent board interaction. Transactional work involving physician relationships led to Isacson providing counsel to Lee Health’s medical executive committees. As her health system experience and knowledge grew, her role expanded, and she is now a key strategic adviser to senior leaders at Lee Health. Initially, Isacson came to Lee Health focusing on physician relationships. Now, she’s attending meetings about the strategic growth of the health system into the ambulatory environment, value-based care, and technology solutions for patient engagement.
When Hurricane Ian, the third-costliest weather disaster on record, hit Florida in September 2022, Isacson saw her organization’s commitment to helping people in challenging times.
“As much as I was committed and devoted to this health system and its public mission, Hurricane Ian made it all the stronger for me,” she explains. “We were the only acute care provider in Lee County, where the brunt of the hurricane hit. None of the acute care facilities had running water and were forced to evacuate. But patients were coming in faster than we could move them out. That’s when I saw how everyone from our senior leaders to frontline staff showed their care, their resiliency, and their bravery.”
Over the years, Isacson has helped Lee Health keep Ft. Myers and the surrounding area a happier, healthier place. It’s also made her a better attorney and a better leader.
Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman is one of the largest health law firms in the country, serving the continuum of healthcare providers, including hospitals, health systems, physician practices, ambulatory surgery centers, laboratories, pharmacies, and other ancillary providers. Hall Render is proud to represent Lee Health, and to work side-by-side with Teri Isacson and her colleagues who each in their own right are smart, dedicated, and committed to the mission of Lee Health as a public health system. Hall Render works with Teri and her colleagues to provide trusted advice and practical solutions to the many complex challenges faced by the Lee Health executive team. We always strive to “get the deal done and to get it done right.” Congratulations to Teri for this well-deserved recognition and honor.