New Silver Cross Hospital president and CEO models work-life balance

Michael Mutterer, Silver Cross: ‘I’m a big proponent that you have to find work-life balance’

New President and CEO of Silver Cross Hospital Michael Mutterer poses for a family photos with his son Evan, wife Nancy and daughter Emersyn on Wednesday June 12, 2024 in New Lenox.

Lora McGuire, former nursing professor at Joliet Junior College, isn’t surprised that Michael Mutterer is now president and CEO at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox.

Mutterer attended JJC from 2002-04 and earned an associate’s degree in nursing, followed by his bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and his master’s in clinical, counseling and applied psychology at Adler University.

He came to Silver Cross in April 2020 as chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services. In October 2022, Mutterer became senior vice president and chief nursing officer, a role he held until June.

Mutterer also served as interim president and CEO at Silver Cross starting Oct. 15, after the death of then-president and CEO Ruth Colby.

McGuire said Mutterer was one of her “star” students at JJC and that he always embraced the hard work that’s inherent to nursing.

“He just kept going and going, and look where he is,” McGuire said. “He’s at the top of his game. You couldn’t get any higher than CEO at a hospital.”

Mutterer previously was the clinical supervisor of emergency services at Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (1995-99), the regional director of operations at CarePlus Management Inc. (1999 to 2010), administrator of the hospice division at Home Bound Healthcare Hospice LLC (2010-11), vice president of nursing and post-acute care at Riverside Medical Center/Healthcare (2011-14), and senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Riverside HealthCare in Kankakee (2014-20).

He also earned the following certifications and licenses through the years: registered nurse, certified alcohol and drug abuse counselor, certified counselor for the mentally ill substance abuser, licensed clinical professional counselor and licensed nursing home administrator.

“He just kept going and going and look where he is. He’s at the top of his game.”

—  Lora McGuire, former nursing instructor at Joliet Junior College

But Mutterer is also husband to Nancy and father to Evan, 21, a senior at Carthage College in Wisconsin and Emersyn, 17, a senior at Lemont High School. Family is the main priority in his life.

“I’m a big proponent that you have to find work-life balance, especially for nursing leaders who have to answer calls at midnight if something happens,” Mutterer said. “Being a working dad is no different than being a working mother.”

Family matters

Mutterer said he was raised in a 100-person community called Hillpoint, Wisconsin, by parents who “worked for everything they had.” And family life – including eating together as a family – was “just something that was instilled in me,” he said.

Coordinating family dinners grew challenging as the children grew older, he said. But family dinners still happen at four nights a week, although sometimes not until 7 p.m., he said.

“We still look forward to having dinner as a family,” Mutterer said.

New President and CEO of Silver Cross Hospital Michael Mutterer poses for a family photos with his son Evan, wife Nancy and daughter Emersyn on Wednesday June 12, 2024 in New Lenox.

Mutterer said people asked him early in his career how he found time for family life.

“I was working full-time and going to school full-time, and I just had my son,” Mutterer said. “I used to joke and say that sleep was overrated. I’ve always been the type of person that can juggle a lot; I feel that’s a strength of mine. I can have a lot of balls up in the air and still – somehow – stay grounded.”

Mutterer said the “luxury” of hospitals operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is the option of working outside regular office hours. So if Mutterer attends a school play or a football game, he catches up with email after the event or over the weekend, he said.

“I try to live the life I ask my staff to follow, so they don’t get burned out,” Mutterer said.

Michael Mutterer, president and CEO at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox (center), greets employees with the Silver Cross Kindness Kart last week.

Work-life balance includes self-care

Mutterer said he’s “big on staying physically fit.” He exercises and sticks to healthy foods Monday through Thursday. He also fasts intermittently, a decade-long habit, he said.

Still, Mutterer will treat himself to a cookie from time to time “like anybody else,” he said.

“I’m just very focused on having that balance,” Mutterer said.

Mutterer said he actually enjoyed 70-mile, one-way commutes from his Lemont home when he worked at Riverside HealthCare in Kankakee.

“That was my uptime and downtime,” Mutterer said. “When I lost that, it was a bit shocking for me. I live five minutes from the hospital now.”

The value of hard work

Still, Mutterer feels his hard work is also part of his modeling and forbid “impossible” to seep into his vocabulary. Because “impossible” can limit opportunities or “put limits on what you think you can do,” he said.

Mutterer hopes his children learned the value of hard work from him, just as he learned from his parents.

“I think it’s important for us as parents and as elders to teach kids that it’s OK to work hard,” Mutterer said. “And for me, it’s an expectation. Both my kids have jobs for the summer.”

Mutter said his roles influenced his children in other ways. Evan is studying business management and Emersyn volunteers at Silver Cross, babysits for one family, nannies for another and wants to become a nurse, he said.

“Her schedule is really as crazy as mine,” Mutterer said. “And yet I know she loves it all.”

Mutterer said he’s honored to serve a hospital in his own community and has just two goals going forward.

New President and CEO of Silver Cross Hospital Michael Mutterer poses for a photo on Wednesday June 12, 2024 in New Lenox.

One is maintaining Silver Cross’ focus on quality health care and safety. The other is to lead with “kindness, compassion and empathy,” he said.

“I feel with the two coupled together,” Mutterer said, “you can’t go wrong.”

5 pieces of “life” advice from Michael Mutterer

• “Being a working dad is no different than being a working mother.”

• “Look forward to having dinner as a family.”

• “Try to live the life I ask my staff to follow.”

• “It’s important for us as parents and as elders to teach kids that it’s OK to work hard.”

• Lead with “kindness, compassion and empathy.”