Sarah Frost

CEO – Banner-University Medical Center Tucson – Banner-University Medical Center South

By Rodney Campbell

The woman who promoted Sarah Frost to COO at what was then University of Arizona Medical Center saw many things in her colleague that warranted the life-changing move.

Karen Mlawsky, then the CEO at UAMC, pegged Frost as a person who could eventually lead Banner Health’s two hospitals and approximately 7,000 employees. Frost went on to become CEO at Banner-UMC Tucson and Banner UMC-South in 2018.

“Sarah leads from her heart and her head,” said Mlawsky, now the COO at Watermark Retirement Communities. “She has unquestionable integrity and will do the right thing regardless. Her associates and patients are her priority. Sarah is known to be a straight shooter who cuts through the ‘noise’ quickly to get to the point.”

Frost has spent the better part of two decades at the Banner facilities, giving her the opportunity to see and effect growth and progress, including the $443 million, nine-story tower that opened in 2019.

Everything she does as CEO and the suggestions that her team gives are aimed at improving the patient experience.

“I value transparency and honest communication, and I work every day to ensure that my teams have what they need to care for our patients,” Frost said. “I appreciate feedback, no matter how big or small the issue, because it provides us an opportunity to do better.” 

It’s common at Banner Health to have women such as Frost in key leadership roles–more than half of Banner’s senior managers are female.

“The culture at Banner Health is incredibly inclusive,” she said. “I am proud to be one of many female leaders in our system and proud to say that there is nothing unique about it.”

The challenges locally have been numerous over the past couple of years. Banner-UMC, the only ACS Level I trauma center in Southern Arizona, was even more hectic during the pandemic.

Frost said Banner’s two hospitals, cancer center, urgent care centers and dozens of outpatient clinics provide more than a million patient appointments per year. Leading that charge is a responsibility that she relishes on good and tough days.

“So much has changed in the last two years, and, like everyone else, there are good days and there are hard days,” Frost said. “We see heartbreak, but we also see joy and second chances. I am grateful to share all these moments with our community.”

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