Sonja LaBarbera headshot

Sonja LaBarbera rises from chief operating officer (COO) to president and CEO of Gaylord Specialty Healthcare. This appointment marks the first female chosen to lead the medically complex care and rehabilitation services provider in its 117-year history.

LaBarbera, who assumes the leadership position following the retirement of prior CEO, George Kyriacou, in 2018, has a 14-year history with Wallingford, Conn-based Gaylord, first as director of inpatient therapy and ascending to chief operating officer.

As COO, she played a vital role in increasing system-wide volumes and patient satisfaction scores and more than tripled the size and scope of Gaylord’s outpatient Physical Therapy, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine program, according to a media release from Gaylord Specialty Healthcare.

Kyriacou attributes much of Gaylord’s success over the last decade to Sonja’s dynamic personality, he notes in the release. “Not only is she full of energy, but she’s bursting with ideas and has the rare ability to make things happen quickly and effectively.”

She is a leader for the future, a trait he calls “increasingly important and rare in a healthcare system that’s in constant flux,” he adds.

Robert Lyons, chairman of Gaylord’s Board of Directors explains, “It’s imperative to identify leaders who can position our organization for the future and do it in a positive, cost-effective way that meets patients’ needs and delivers integrated care. Sonja epitomizes someone who can take Gaylord from where it is today to where it needs to be tomorrow.”

LaBarbera’s peers say that she is committed to patient-centric care and is often overheard saying, “It is always about the patient.” More than her trademark motto, her staff explain that it is a litmus test for every decision she makes, the release continues.

“I am very excited to start this new chapter of my career at Gaylord,” LaBarbera recently wrote in a letter addressing employees. “What Gaylord offers is truly unique. Our outcomes are among the best in the country, which is a reflection of our commitment. As a team, we are making tremendous progress toward growing our reputation as a provider of choice for rehabilitation and complex medical management. The forward momentum is exciting!”

[Source: Gaylord Specialty Healthcare]