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Jennifer Higgins Named Chief Nursing Officer for Lee Health

Press Releases

(Fort Myers, Fla. – May 10, 2021) --- With more than 20 years of nursing experience, Jennifer Higgins has been named chief nursing officer for Lee Health. She had previously been serving as the interim chief nursing officer.

In her new role, Higgins will be responsible for leading nursing strategies that support Lee Health’s mission, vision, values and objectives. She’ll work with other leaders within the health system to develop continuous improvement strategies for clinical quality, safety and patient experience programs.

As chief nursing officer, Higgins will also create strategies for the recruitment and retention of high-quality nursing staff to Lee Health.

Higgins began her career at Lee Health in 2000 when she joined the health system as an emergency room nurse. Throughout the years, she progressively advanced through a variety of key senior operational roles before being appointed chief nursing officer. Her most recent position was chief nurse executive at Gulf Coast Medical Center where she collaboratively developed a comprehensive transformation plan that included the successful opening of the first phases of the Gulf Coast Medical Center expansion project. As a part of the expansion, she also successfully moved the oncology program from Lee Memorial Hospital to Gulf Coast Medical Center and opened a new 52-bed ICU (intensive care unit) tower. 

Additionally, Higgins’s leadership led to the early opening of 216 new acute care beds to help Lee Health manage the patient surge associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Jennifer’s nursing leadership experience, along with her dedication to supporting our nurses while providing the highest quality of care to our patients made her the perfect choice to serve as Lee Health’s chief nursing officer,” said Dr. Scott Nygaard, chief operating officer of Lee Health. “She is a proven leader and will continue to elevate and advance the professional practice of nursing at Lee Health.”

“I am so grateful to work with such a wonderful team. Our nurses at Lee Health are the best of the best,” said Higgins. “I am honored to have been chosen for the chief nursing officer role, I look forward to all that we’re going to accomplish.”

Higgins has achieved several advanced certifications, including Nurse Executive Advanced Certification, Certified Emergency Nurse and Advanced Trauma Nursing. She also participated in the Wharton Nurse Leaders Program, American Organization for Nurse Executives and is a past board member of the Southwest Florida Organization for Nurse Executives. She currently serves on the Greater Fort Myers Chamber Board of Directors. 

She earned a Diploma in Nursing from St. Luke’s School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of South Florida and a Master of Science in Nursing from Walden University. She is currently enrolled in a Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Walden University. 

Higgins will continue to serve as chief nurse executive at Gulf Coast Medical Center until a permanent replacement is hired.