Family and friends knew Roy L. Hawkins would be a leader in the medical profession. He was a top student at Miami Carol City High, and excelled in science. At Howard University, he was on his way to a career as a physician — until an attempt at dissecting a pig left him out cold on the floor.
“I couldn’t handle it,” he said.
A professor suggested he instead study the business of medicine. Years later, with stops in Tampa, Georgia and Virginia, Hawkins is back in South Florida as the senior vice president and chief executive officer at Jackson North Medical Center.
“This is a much better fit. I now visit the operating rooms, briefly,” he laughed.
As Jackson North's new head honcho, Hawkins is in charge of the 382-bed hospital. He arrives as the campus in in the midst of a $121 million expansion and renovation project of the hospital campus. Included in that project are 10 new operating rooms, an expanded emergency department, a new 30-room intensive care unit, three new labor and delivery rooms and a new entrance and lobby.
“I am honored to return to Miami-Dade County, a place I proudly call home and humbled to have been selected to join the Jackson Health System team,” Hawkins said. “I look forward to joining the dynamic team of healthcare professionals at Jackson North. It is a privilege to be part of this organization, a source of great pride in the Miami-Dade community that impacts the lives of hundreds of people every day.”
Hawkins replaces Gino Santorio, who left in August to take a position as chief operating officer with Broward Health. Jackson Health Systems are happy to get the man with direct ties to the community.
“We are so proud to have recruited Roy, a Miami native who not only knows but understands the medical needs of our community,” said Carlos A. Migoya, president and CEO of Jackson Health System. “His widespread knowledge of healthcare, along with his strategic managerial skills, will no doubt push Jackson North Medical Center into an even brighter future.”
And Hawkins, said he wants to promote the hospital and its location to the northern parts of the county.
“I like the fact that I understand the community’s health care disparities. I’m really going to work with the community to better educate them on health are decisions,” Hawkins said. “I’m able to partner with physicians to focus on our community and deliver to the community.”
Prior to joining Jackson, Hawkins served as chief operating officer at Johnston-Willis Hospital, a 292-bed facility and a campus of CJW Medical Center, in Richmond, VA. In his role, he led the organization through a record-breaking year in patient volumes, as well as spearheaded the efforts to achieving Comprehensive Stroke Center certification, with Johnston-Willis Hospital being one of only two hospitals in Richmond to attain the designation. Additionally, Roy held executive oversight of the hospital’s Emergency Department, Surgical Services, Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute, and their Rehabilitation Unit.
Hawkins has 15 years of experience in various Veteran Affairs healthcare organizations, where he held different leadership roles, including interim CEO, COO, and deputy medical center director at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa. He also held executive roles at VA Sunshine Healthcare Network in St. Petersburg, FL, Orlando VA Medical Center, VA Southeast Network in Duluth, GA, and the Miami VA Healthcare System.
Those who’ve known Hawkins since elementary and high school say they’re not surprised at his achievement.
John Gay, an accountant who is the CEO of Tax Doctors, said he and Hawkins became friends while attending a youth mentoring program for students at North Dade Regional Library.
“We were kids in Carol City who were making beautiful strides. We clicked every since,” Gay said. “To see him travel the globe running hospitals is a dream come true.”
Gay and Hawkins developed a bond that transcended Miami-Dade County. Although they attended different high schools, they made a pact to attend “whichever college accepted us both.” So they ended up in Washington, D.C., at Howard University.
Though they chose different career fields, Gay said they are two high-achieving Black men who still bounce around ideas.
“It’s good to see your friends challenge you,” he said. “You can ask certain questions, and they’ll give an answer to point you in the right direction. If I need a professional opinion, I can give him a call, and vice versa.”
“To see him run all these hospitals and come to his own back yard at Jackson North, that’s nothing but God,” Gay said.
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson said Hawkins was a go-getter even when he was a student at Skyway Elementary School, where she served as principal.
“He has always been … a young man with goals. He learned it at Skyway. That’s what we put in them. Roy is a part of that legacy. I’m so proud of him,” Wilson said.
Wilson said Hawkins excelled academically, but he also was charismatic and talkative. “I had problems with Roy being too chatty. But those are the problems with me. I used to tell Roy when I was little, teachers would say, ‘Frederica stop talking. Now they say Frederica speak. Don’t stop speaking.”
She said Hawkins is an example for today’s students who want to succeed.
“Roy is the type that you can’t hold him down. If he had his eye on that job and they gave the opportunity, that’s all the millennials need is an opportunity,” Wilson said. “If you give them the opportunity they will shine and make you proud.”