A Profile of Melissa Natalizia
Leading with Light in Healthcare Facility Operations

Melissa Natalizia

Melissa Natalizia
Senior Manager
Healthcare Facility Operations

Melissa Natalizia, Senior Manager, Facility Operations, at a healthcare facility in Arizona, brings a cool head and an air of calm to the healthcare facilities environment.

Some days can be tough – deadlines looming, expectations high, and the pressure can feel overwhelming. But then, there are days when the smallest things bring a much-needed smile to people’s faces.

Recently, Melissa stepped into an elevator and found a humble Post-it note that read, “Please, please fix me” regarding an elevator floor light that had burned out. It was a reminder that amidst the hustle and bustle, we can still find humor in everyday situations.

“When we’re going through chaotic circumstances, I’m definitely the one that will bring light to the situation,” said Melissa. “I’m optimistic in my role because of my background in emergency management where you’re always dealing with multiple incidents.”

Before walking through the doors of healthcare facility management, Melissa was a respiratory therapist, and she was involved in selecting related equipment for multiple hospital expansion projects in California. She’s also worked in clinic operations and ambulatory quality management.

“I had to learn about space isolation and pressurization in outpatient settings for patients during the pandemic,” she said. “Transitioning from the clinical to the non-clinical aspects of healthcare has given me a boost in bridging communication gaps.”

At this point in her career, one of Melissa’s highlighted concerns as a team leader is the imminent retirement of their seasoned plant mechanics and operators who are departing with a wealth of knowledge.

Melissa wants to make sure that that their deep familiarity with the facility will be shared with incoming teams and existing teams. To accomplish this goal, they’re making sure that they have a solid onboarding process for new people and that they’re creating alliances with the folks that are getting to retire so they can share what they've learned over the last 20 years.

Another labor management challenge is a highly educated workforce that lacks hands-on experience. “Are they willing to learn, are they willing to dive in and ask questions and not be afraid to fail? We can’t grow unless we fail,” said Melissa.

Failure isn’t a topic that’s talked about very much in facility management. But profound lessons are learned from doing something incorrectly, asking for help, and adjusting.

“We’ve got to support that and welcome questions and new ideas from new hires,” said Melissa. “Maybe for 20 years, we’ve been doing x, but hey, Y may be a great alternative.”

To illustrate Melissa’s willingness to try new projects, she launched a business outside of facility management – opening a spa and beauty salon.

“It was an interesting field,” she said. “But I preferred to stay within facility operations. I decided to close the salon and allow the staff to each do their individual adventure and support them in their next journey.”

Growing up, Melissa was exposed to the world of manufacturing, project management, and engineering through her dad, who often brought her to work while he was the vice president of a manufacturing company.

“There was no doubt in my mind that I would end up in some sort of engineering type role eventually in my life,” she said. “I think that having that base knowledge and understanding of how things work, what flows, what pressures are, helps me today.”

She also recalled doing a school project where they had to make battery-operated cars. With her dad being an engineer, they got ahold of old CAD drawings of these cars and talked about changing the velocity and making the car go as fast as possible and finding the best and lightest metals.

“That was one of the opportunities that I got to see things in action and see my dad in his own environment. So that was really cool,” said Melissa.

Being in Arizona, close to nature, has its advantages for Melissa and her family who love camping and hiking. They’re big Disneyland fans. They also lived in Idaho for a few years and that filled the cup of being outdoors.

“Even on the hardest days I enjoy what I’m doing,” said Melissa. “Being on the facilities side lets me be creative and it lets me help grow the people around me which I love.”

She explained that if she and her team don’t maintain a space that’s safe for their patients to come receive care, then they don’t have places to go. While facilities teams aren’t in the forefront or frontlines of patient care, they’re still impacting those patients and creating a secure environment for them.

To continue advancing her own leadership skills, Melissa listens to audiobooks while she’s at the gym, including 25 Ways to Win with People, 360 Degree Leader, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

She’s also active in ASHE and ACHE for networking and educational opportunities in healthcare facility management.

Melissa believes in cultivating a curiosity approach to acquiring expertise and career advancement and not hesitating to ask questions. “That’s one of the biggest pieces of career advice I can offer besides daring to venture into the unknown. Those are probably the two that go me to where I am today.”


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