Colette Martin started school at Fremont Elementary in Colorado Springs District 11 and graduated from Lewis-Palmer High School in Monument. Now 43, Martin earned a degree in English from Colorado State University before earning her MBA from the University of Colorado.
Various jobs, some at Memorial Hospital and the University of Colorado Health System, have marked her ascent to the post of chief operating officer at Memorial. She recently took time to speak with the Business Journal about her job and her life.
Tell us about your family.
My father served in the Army, stationed at Fort Carson. My mother was a nurse. She has an MBA and worked at Memorial Hospital for 24 years. I have three children, Regan, 15; Braeden, 12; and Carlaen, 8.
Talk about your job.
I really believe I am one of the luckiest people. First, I’m blessed to work for Memorial and UCHealth and, second, I’m fortunate to work for my community. I work with smart and talented people who strive every day to meet our mission, which is to improve lives. With my degree, I could work in many industries, but health care marries my education with a passion to help people and to help them in tangible ways. It’s just important for me to do for others. I enjoy working with people and helping people, these are things that are important to me.
What are some of the things you are working on at Memorial?
Now that Memorial is associated with an academic medical center, we have improved access to medical research. For instance, breast cancer patients have historically undergone a lumpectomy (removal of the tumor), followed by six weeks of radiation. Memorial now offers IORT, or Interoperative Radiation Therapy, in which the surgeon removes the tumor and then secures a special balloon device in the surgical cavity while the patient is still asleep on the operating room table. Under the supervision and guidance of a trained radiation oncologist, the balloon device delivers focused radiation directly to the area previously occupied by the tumor — the area where cancerous cells may have unavoidably been left behind.
Next, the balloon device is completely removed from the patient. After the balloon device is removed, the surgical incision is closed in a routine procedure. The patient wakes up with no balloon device or indication that the IORT procedure was performed. There is a research component to this treatment, and I think that’s pretty cool.
How does it feel to have such a prestigious job?
I appreciate that I have the title of chief operating officer. Certainly, there is meaning there and much responsibility. Ultimately, the hospital runs because of everyone else. It’s the nurse and the tech on the overnight shift. It’s the doctor who comes in for a trauma call, and it’s the dietitians, the housekeepers and the security officers. It’s quite an honor to work here and to support people who work every day, and not just from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but at 2:30 in the morning on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
How have you worked your way up?
After college I worked for Volunteers of America. After a few years, I started working as a volunteer coordinator at a school district in Sitka, an island community in Alaska. I then became a grant writer for Youth Advocates for Sitka, a mental health agency for children, and I became the CEO of that organization.
I moved back to Colorado and became the manager of a physician practice. One of my mentors, Dr. Robert McIntyre, encouraged me to earn an MBA, so I enrolled at the University of Colorado. I transitioned to hospital management and became the business manager for the cardiovascular service line at Memorial, service line director of cardiovascular and cancer services, director of strategic planning and now, the COO.
Each of the jobs that I have held has positioned me to work in my current role. From the beginning of my career until now, I’ve been blessed to work with individuals who have a similar passion to make a difference in others’ lives, in positive ways. I’ve been fortunate to learn from the people around me.
What is your opinion of Colorado Springs as a place to attract and hold young professionals?
It’s important the community is concerned with being an attractive place for all ages. We attract young professionals and young families by having great schools, great colleges and universities, great health care and access to open space. These are all attributes that Colorado Springs has and will continue to have. As we continue to make a concerted effort to invest in our community and to bring jobs — and Memorial hires many young professionals — ultimately, we will see more young people make Colorado Springs home. This is an amazing, beautiful place.
What volunteer work do you do?
I’ve coached basketball, volleyball and soccer at the Tri-Lakes YMCA. I have been treasurer of the Lewis-Palmer Elementary School PTO, and I am the incoming treasurer for the Palmer Ridge High School Foundation.