Dr. Eric Cornwell
As a recipient of the 2010 Cecil Cutting Award, Dr. Cornwell has placed Compton ‘on the map’ in a way that makes his hometown proud.
By Yussuf J. Simmonds
Sentinel Managing Editor
As the 2010 recipient of the Cecil Cutting Leadership Award, Dr. Eric Cornwell is Â recognized among the physicians who distinguish themselves as excellent leaders in The Permanente Medical Group (TPMG). Â As a pioneer in the Kaiser Permanente (KP) Central Valley Area (CVA), Dr. Cornwell became chief of surgery in 1988, a year after arriving in the CVA. Â Under his skilled leadership, the department grew from 2 to 19 surgeons and significantly expended access to surgical sub-specialties.
Now the chief of surgery at the Ob/Gyn department since 2009, Dr. Cornwell said, “My goal is to create a welcoming work environment where we all can thrive and do our best work.” Â And with remarkable speed, he has taken the department to stellar scores in access, quality, service and efficiency. Â In addition, he wears the title, Assistant Physician-in-Chief (APIC) of Physician Satisfaction, Human Resources, Diversity and Surgical Services. Â But how did all this come about; where did this dynamo of energy emerge from?
Dr. Cornwell was born and raised in Compton. Â He attended Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) in Hanover, New Hampshire, one of seven Ivy League medical schools and is ranked as a top medical school for primary care and biomedical research. In addition to an obvious, strong sense of family values, Dr. Cornwell’s time at DMS helped to establish a strong sense of community service and collaborative spirit since the school which consisted of small class sizes, also offered an array of community service, recreational, professional and other student groups.
Those who know him well also knew that given his personality and temperament, he was drawn to the field of medicine and surgery because of his love of helping and listening to people and his sensitivity to complex health issues. Â As a leader in his chosen field, Dr. Cornwell has made significant contributions and has had the most meaningful impact championing issues of diversity in the CVA. Â This is not a new trend of his; in the early 1990s, Dr. Cornwell founded the Ethics Committee for the Stockton facility. Â And in 1998, he was honored as a recipient for the Human Resources and Diversity Champion Award, and was twice chosen for the Butler Service Award, the CVA’s highest award for service.
Observing the strides that Dr. Cornwell has also made in the area of Human Resources and development, it may be ascertained that many of his attributes were shaped and molded from his experience as an inner city African American. Â He was among the first in the CVA to facilitate open conversations about race, age, gender and sexual orientation and their impact on the work environment. Â Those efforts resulted in a more diverse workforce and an environment in which differences in background and culture are valued for the unique contribution they can make to patient care.
Dr. Cornwell is the son of Pastor and Mrs. R. Cornwell; his brothers are Mark Cornwell, an Economic Strategist; and Craig Cornwell, the City Attorney of Compton. Â His wife, Valerie, and his daughters Taylor and Jordan occupy his personal time. Â He also loves horseback riding and traveling.
The Cornwell brothers have indeed made their hometown proud that they came ‘straight outta Compton.’Â