INFINITUM Squash & Emerson Hospital Partnership
Through a shared vision for community engagement in the MetroWest and an eye towards health & wellness, INFINITUM Squash has partnered with Emerson Hospital for the coming squash season.
The partnership kicks off this Wednesday, Oct. 2 when INFINITUM hosts reigning World Champ and World #1 Ali Farag and World #5 Nour El Tayeb for what promises to be an incredible evening of squash.
INFINITUM Founder & GM, Chessin Gertler sat down with Emerson Hospital President & CEO, Christine Schuster to discuss Emerson Hospital, its partnership with INFINITUM, and a shared passion for the game of squash.
The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity
Christine Schuster: For the past 15 years, I’ve been the president & CEO of Emerson Hospital. I’ve lived here for 22 years and it’s so great being able to head a hospital in the area I live in so that I can provide care for my family and friends and bring great healthcare to the community.
“I think my experience as a nurse will always be with me in this role because it’s really always about putting the patient first and that’s exactly what a nurse does. The hard part about being a nurse sometimes is that you’re in a position to see a lot of things that could be made better in the healthcare system but you’re not necessarily in a position to change those things. That’s really what has compelled me to pursue a leadership role; I wanted to be in the kind of position to enact fundamental change that my patients would benefit from.”
Chessin Gertler: How did you come to this role?
CS: I’m a nurse with an MBA from the University of Chicago. I did a lot of time in healthcare consulting throughout the country which afforded me an opportunity to see what works well in healthcare and what doesn’t work so well. I’ve been a CEO in three different hospitals, Emerson being my third, and for me, my passion is really around bringing preventative care and treating diseases at various points along the continuum.
I think my experience as a nurse will always be with me in this role because it’s really always about putting the patient first and that’s exactly what a nurse does. The hard part about being a nurse sometimes is that you’re in a position to see a lot of things that could be made better in the healthcare system but you’re not necessarily in a position to change those things. That’s really what has compelled me to pursue a leadership role; I wanted to be in the kind of position to enact fundamental change that my patients would benefit from.
CG: How is Emerson different from your typical hospital and how is its role in the community unique as you see it?
CS: Emerson has been around for over 100 years. Its inception came through a grant from Charles Emerson who grew frustrated taking his wife into Boston for healthcare, which was a very long ride in a horse-drawn cart at the time. Emerson decided to bring care local and still after all these years, our mission is to provide quality health services in a manner that is easy and affordable, which we now do throughout Middlesex County.
CG: A major goal with founding INFINITUM was to provide local access to a very high level of sports training for a sport I and the INFINITUM team feel passionately about. How did you come to squash? What led you to the sport and captivated you by it?
CS: Our mission at Emerson really is caring for the communities we serve and that means everything is local. My interest in squash grew out of my daughter’s, who fell in love with the sport as a sixth grader. She has been playing ever since and I got involved through her. I have to say, my love for squash has grown out of a love for watching her play of course but also out of a love for watching the different levels of the sport, right up to the professional level. The game is mentally and physically challenging! I’d rather watch Squash TV than a baseball game now. When you understand how much training is involved at the highest levels, you really appreciate the passion, dedication and perseverance and how great squash players really are.
CG: Beyond the fact that squash players at INFINITUM should see Emerson as a high-level local resource, and may very well be coming through its doors seeking a variety of treatments, are there any other resonances between our club and program and the Emerson Health System that you would like to cover?
“Squash serves to keep both children and adults physically and mentally fit and serves as an important tooI for teaching our children the importance of fitness and helping them maintain it throughout their life. It’s been eye-opening for me to see the range of ages and levels at INFINITUM and how squash truly can be a lifelong pursuit.”
CS: I’m really excited to partner with INFINITUM because Emerson’s focus truly is on caring for the community. A very important piece of this mission is local health & wellness and, at base, that’s a fundamental component of INFINITUM’s vision. It’s a perfect match. Squash serves to keep both children and adults physically and mentally fit and serves as an important tooI for teaching our children the importance of fitness and helping them maintain it throughout their life. It’s been eye-opening for me to see the range of ages and levels at INFINITUM and how squash truly can be a lifelong pursuit. Working with the team at INFINITUM over the past year, it’s clear that they really care about health, wellness, and most importantly, making a difference locally. They’re very engaged, very committed in our community and that commitment really resonates with Emerson’s.
CG: I think a major phenomenon you also see is that as people’s lives, especially children’s, get busier and busier and more and more overprescribed, they end up carrying that with them through life. So to give a person a tool that can help with stress relief, health & fitness, and also provide a social outlet, that’s really a major component at the heart of our vision as well.
CS: And it’s a universal sport, which I think is amazing! You can take a racket with you anywhere and you don’t have to speak the language but you can pick up a game and you can make a friend and you can share an experience no matter where you are in the world. Despite all this, I really think that squash hasn’t peaked yet. My longterm dream for squash is for it to be recognized as an Olympic sport. It requires the same level of physical, and even mental preparation, strength and conditioning and overall dedication of any of the Olympic sports. I really want to see the sport to continue to grow locally, nationally, and internationally, but really for it to be recognized at the Olympic level, that’s my dream.
CG: That’s the ultimate goal that seems ever elusive for whatever reason, but we all keep working for it and it’s good to know there’s another in the fight. The degree of fitness, mental focus and acuity needed and also just the international nature of the game - it’s played in hundreds of countries by boys, girls, men, and women, people of all ages - squash is a true embodiment of sport! There are few activities purer than squash in that respect.
“Healthcare is delivered in partnerships; we have partnerships with schools, with senior centers, with health clubs and this is just another opportunity for us to bring great healthcare together with a great sports program.“
CG: We talked about your hopes for the future of the game of squash. What are your hopes and vision for the future of Emerson Hospital?
CS: We want to continue to grow and provide the full range of health services locally. We have the full continuum of care at Emerson. We have the Steinberg Wellness Center, which offers a variety of health and wellness classes to keep you fit and provides support groups for a multitude of diagnoses. We have our rehabilitation center, which takes care of you if you have surgery and also does performance enhancement for top athletes. And then, we’ll meet you wherever you are on your health journey: if you need urgent care, we can provide that. We also provide primary and specialized care. If you’re in need of an emergency department, we have that as well. You can have your babies here, you can get sick and whether it’s a short-term or chronic illness, we’re poised and prepared to care for you. We also have a deep clinical affiliation with Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospital, so we’re able to bring Boston-level care to the community to make it easier for folks not to have to battle traffic. We like to draw people to Emerson for care in the same manner INFINITUM is drawing people for squash.
CG: And it seems like the current ethos of the hospital is really an extension of that original vision of providing high quality care for a local community but still connecting it in terms of quality and breadth of offerings with the universal healthcare system that is Boston.
CS: Absolutely!. That’s our target and we’re just very excited for this opportunity. Healthcare is delivered in partnerships; we have partnerships with schools, with senior centers, with health clubs and this is just another opportunity for us to bring great healthcare together with a great sports program.
To learn more about Emerson Hospital, visit www.emersonhospital.org or call 1 (978) 369-1400