Irene Agostini, MD, has been named chief medical officer of the University of New Mexico Hospital, joining a senior leadership team charged with improving performance and meeting the challenges posed by health care reform, the university announced Thursday.

Agostini, who is board certified in emergency medicine, will report to Michael Richards, MD, executive physician-in-chief of the UNM Health System, and hospital CEO Steve McKernan. Agostini will work closely with administrators and clinical service chiefs to develop medical policy, goals and operational directions for the hospital, which she will collaborate in implementing.

In this senior physician leadership role, Agostini will facilitate medical staff interactions with hospital’s administration and governing board to assure effective and efficient delivery of quality medical care consistent with UNM Hospital’s mission and vision.

“Dr. Agostini brings tremendous passion and commitment to everything she does,” said Richards, who oversees the clinical activities of the UNM Health System, the umbrella organization for UNM’s hospitals, clinics and medical group. “Her management expertise will be invaluable as we pursue our long-range organizational goals and strategies.”

McKernan pointed to Agostini’s experience in improving patient experience.

“We look forward to Irene joining the hospital team and helping our efforts to constantly improve the quality and safety of care being delivered to our patients,” he said. “Her expertise in developing programs to better serve patients will be valuable to improving the hospital systems.”

Agostini, who for the past year has served as the Health System’s executive physician for clinical operations, said she is looking forward to the challenges that accompany the new job.

“My goal is to engage all of our physicians and staff to improve our efficiency in caring for patients at UNMH,” Agostini said. “I want to help improve the health of all New Mexicans by making our excellent care available to them.”

A New York City native, Agostini graduated from Stuyvesant High School, renowned for its science and math curriculum. She graduated summa cum laude from Creighton University with a B.S. in biology in 1984. She earned her MD from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 1988, then did a one-year internship in orthopedic surgery at UNM, followed by a three-year UNM emergency medicine residency.

Agostini worked in UNM’s emergency department between 1992 and 2005, and in the pediatric emergency department from 1995 to 2005. She also put in a stint with the Presbyterian Healthcare emergency department from 2004 to 2014.

Agostini was assistant medical director for the Presbyterian emergency program from 2009 to 2011 and medical director of Presbyterian Care Connection from 2011 to 2014. She was also Presbyterian’s medical director for case management from 2011 until February 2014, before she returned to UNM.

She also volunteered as the medical director of the Albuquerque Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program from 1996 to 2013. This program has transformed the way sexual assault patients are cared for in the city’s emergency departments.

Agostini, who lists downhill and cross-country skiing, hiking, climbing, running, swimming, rafting and traveling among her interests, has also served as medical director of Sandia Preparatory School’s outdoor education program.