Get to know the individuals who make up Culloton + Bauer Luce’s team of expert counselors in our “Meet the Crisis Expert” blog series. Next up, Senior Consultant Courtney Avery.

Courtney joined the firm in November and brings nearly two decades of leadership experience with the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board (HFSRB) to advise our growing health care practice. Keep reading to learn more about Courtney’s experience and how she’ll support our clients.

Where were you working prior to joining Culloton + Bauer Luce?

Courtney Avery: Prior to joining Culloton + Bauer Luce, I was the Administrator for the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board (HFSRB) Certificate of Need (CON) program. HFSRB, an independent 11-member commission appointed by the Governor of Illinois with confirmation of the Senate, was a long-desired career change for me and presented the opportunity to work in the field of health care administration.

As the Administrator, I was responsible for the implementation of the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act which gave legal authority to issue permits for construction or modification projects proposed by or on behalf of health care facilities, and for the acquisition of major medical equipment. In addition, the CON program’s intent was to develop a comprehensive health care delivery system that assures availability of quality facilities, health care services and medical equipment, and addresses issues of community health care needs, health care accessibility and system financing.

What made you interested in joining Culloton + Bauer Luce?

Courtney Avery: I am a problem solver! In my professional roles, it was important to know that there is always a means to an end, a job to accomplish, outcomes to achieve. And that non-flexibility was not an option.

I understood that moving into the role of senior consultant with Culloton + Bauer Luce (CBL) would be a huge challenge in a different, but still somewhat similar, stratosphere. As with all new opportunities, I saw this move as a fresh start and a change in both my professional landscape and creative abilities.

Initially, I was nervous about the transition, but I knew my time with HFSRB would set me up for success in this new role. And I’m happy to say any anxieties I did have dissipated during one of my first meetings with the CBL leadership team. I was asked about my time at the HFSRB, and as I described a day in my role, CBL’s Executive Vice President Natalie Bauer Luce responded with, “You’re doing the work.” At that moment I reflected on the message on the CBL website: Responding to crisis. Navigating controversies. Advocating for change. I’ve had zero doubt about my decision to join CBL since.

What industry or specialty will you be focusing on at Culloton + Bauer Luce?

Courtney Avery: The Administrator position with the HFSRB allowed me to gain extensive knowledge, experience and a layperson’s understanding of state, local and federal regulations. I provided technical assistance to entities subject to the Health Facilities Planning Act which included acute care hospitals, long-term facilities, ambulatory surgical treatment centers, dialysis centers and birthing centers.

At CBL, I will concentrate on our growing health care practice, primarily focusing on health care entities such as the ones I just mentioned, but outside of certificate of need, physician groups, pharmaceutical and preventive health care companies and health care associations. I’m also looking forward to working with the CBL team on other non-health care projects to broaden my experience.

What skills do you think are most important to possess in order to succeed in the crisis and public affairs field?

Courtney Avery: It is my opinion that to succeed in the crisis and public affairs field, one must have a crystal-clear understanding of the situation at hand and be able to develop a strategy to combat the crisis. The latter requires the ability to be flexible and adaptable to an everchanging environment. It also means you must be able to influence decision makers in a non-threatening manner – through persuasion and alliance building – and be alert and ready to engage in the tough conversations. In real estate, they say location, location, location is the utmost of importance, but in this field, it’s all about communication, communication, communication!

What’s a recent project you’ve worked on that you’re proud of?

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a major disruption of essential health services. It became necessary for health care facilities to rethink service delivery and revenue streams. Services such as elective and non-life-threatening surgical procedures and treatments were placed on hold, facilities were adjusting the bed inventories to adhere to safety protocols and the public was exhibiting extreme distress and mistrust. Health care-related entities worked day and night to mitigate disruptions to service delivery, and the HFSRB team was receiving an unprecedented number of emails and inquires on how and where to seek medical attention, finding resources for PPE, concerns about long-term care residents and, most of all, technical assistance regarding compliance with executive orders.

The HFSRB staff created a process to respond to all inquiries from the public and media, track bed changes, keep the public abreast of health care facility statuses and inform the industry of changes in executive orders and local ordinances. Through the unprecedented time, not a single HFSRB meeting was canceled – the train did not stop running!

What’s one thing you want prospective clients to know about you and the Culloton + Bauer Luce team?

There are an overwhelming number of industry specialists in the Chicago area, but not many have the respect or reputation that CBL has. During my transition to my new role, I experienced the level of respect given to CBL firsthand from my mentors and colleagues. No one attempted to deter me from joining CBL, and they couldn’t say enough good things about the level of professionalism CBL provides, the team’s dependability and experience and the wide range of clientele the firm is able to help.

It’s only been a few weeks, but in my short time working here I’ve gotten to know the entire CBL team. Everyone wants each other to succeed, but most importantly, CBL want its clients to succeed!