May 18, 2012 David Burda, Editor Modern Healthcare Magazine 150 N. Michigan Avenue Chicago, IL 60601 Dear Mr. Burda, It is with great enthusiasm that we submit this nomination for John O’Brien, president and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care, Inc. for Modern Healthcare’s Community Leadership Award. Thank you for your consideration of Mr. O’Brien who has served our community in this role for ten years and will be retiring in January, 2013. About UMass Memorial Health Care, Inc. UMMHC is the largest not‐for‐profit health care delivery system in Central Massachusetts with 1,700 physicians and over 13,000 employees. UMass Memorial’s comprehensive network of care includes a multi‐campus academic center, owned and affiliated community hospitals, community‐based primary care practices, ambulatory outpatient clinics, home health agencies, hospice programs, mental health services, including the largest community mental health agency in the region and an 1,100 member faculty group practice. UMass Memorial is the clinical partner of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Nomination for John G. O’Brien, UMass Memorial Health Care, Inc. President and CEO for Modern Healthcare’s Community Leadership Award Building Brighter Futures for Worcester City Youth The City of Worcester, Massachusetts – New England’s second largest city ‐‐ has a large and very diverse population of youth, many of whom live in low‐income neighborhoods that are plagued with various social and economic challenges including a strong gang presence. Many of these youth lack positive role models and access to pathways to building a better future for themselves and their families. Poverty and lack of access to educational, social and economic opportunities are among the leading social determinants of health. Statistics show that these socio‐economic factors result in lower utilization of health care services, higher rates of risky behavior and disease, and poorer health outcomes later in life. According to the 2010 U.S. Census figures, nearly 30% of children under the age of 18 in the city of Worcester are living below the poverty level. This is almost double the state average. In addition, youth living in poverty are exposed to and at greater risk of becoming involved in gangs, or affected by gang‐related violence. Many young people often seek medical care for violence‐related injuries in
hospital emergency rooms. As a result, youth violence can also affect the health of communities by increasing health care costs, impacting livability of neighborhoods and decreasing property values. Providing low‐income youth with job skills and pre‐employment training opportunities improves their likelihood of obtaining and holding employment as adults and thereby improves their ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle, eating habits and access to health care. Akosua Sakyi says working with UMass Memorial’s Building Brighter Futures With Youth program has been “life changing” Akosua Sakyi is a three‐year participant in “Building Brighter Futures With Youth”. This youth job development initiative at UMass Memorial’s Worcester campus is designed to foster career paths for inner‐city youth. Akosua describes her experience with the program as “life changing.” Her testimony is one echoed by many young people who have participated in opportunities provided through Worcester’s city‐wide youth jobs efforts that have come to fruition due largely to the leadership and support of John O’Brien, President and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care, Inc. Approximately 75 youth participate in UMass Memorial’s “Building Brighter Futures With Youth” employment program each year
Leading the Charge for Worcester Youth Fostering a Better Future for Youth is a Community Health Priority for John O’Brien, President and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care, Inc. Keeping a community healthy often means going beyond hospital walls. Shortly after assuming the position of President and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care, Inc. in 2002, John O’Brien did just that when he listened to inner‐city youth who said they needed jobs to be healthy, off the streets – and out of hospital emergency rooms. Since then, Mr. O’Brien has devoted resources and his time to assure that youth jobs remain a priority in the city of Worcester and that youth like Akosua have the opportunities they need to foster a successful career path and a healthy future. Mr. O’Brien convened groups of youth and they told him that access to employment opportunities and healthy activities particularly during the summer months, provides the alternatives needed to protect them from potential gang involvement and risk of gang‐related violence.
As part of his ongoing dedication in working to provide these opportunities for Worcester’s youth, Mr. O’Brien developed strong linkages with the City of Worcester government and co‐chaired the City Manager’s Advisory Council on Youth. Under his leadership, this council secured critical funding to keep youth involved in healthy activities throughout the summer and engaged in positive work experiences to promote career paths and improved health outcomes. In particular, he played a key role in the establishment of the City of Worcester Youth Opportunities Office. This office provides coordinated employment and pre‐employment opportunities and training for youth ages 12‐21. Working with the state‐funded YouthWorks summer program, the Youth Office partners with nonprofit and for‐profit organizations to create jobs for youth and place them in these positions. Because of UMass Memorial funding and Mr. O’Brien’s personal involvement, the Worcester Youth Office is recognized as one of the leading youth programs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. With his engagement and UMass Memorial’s support of $100,000 to this office annually, he has helped Worcester youth job programs to secure a total of nearly $2 million in funding and create 4,486 summer jobs for youth in the past two years alone. Since its inception in 2008, a total of 7,076 youth have been placed in summer employment opportunities through this office. UMass Memorial provided an additional combined total of $270,000 in FY2010 and FY2011 for the Worcester Youth Office’s “Wheels to Water” summer recreational program. As a result of Mr. O’Brien’s collaborative efforts with the City Manager, the Youth Office was able to leverage an additional $350,000 in private funding during the same period for this program. Wheels to Water provides swimming lessons and safe and reliable transportation for low‐income youth to pools and recreational sites throughout the summer months. The program also provides a free, healthy lunch to participants and creates more than 120 jobs for youth staff members annually. A total of 2,500 children and youth participated in Wheels to Water during the summers of 2010 and 2011. Due to the success of this program, Worcester’s Wheels to Water is recognized as an example of how to address budgetary challenges faced by cities across the state. Over the past two years, Mr. O’Brien also committed his time and played a key role in assisting the City’s Youth Opportunity Office in the formation of a first of its kind Youth Council. This recently formed council provides Worcester youth with the opportunity to have a voice in city government, particularly on issues that affect their cohort the most.
John O’Brien talks with youth at UMass Memorial’s Health Career Expo 2012. This annual event is attended by more than 300 local youth who are interested in health care careers providing them with the valuable opportunity to hear directly from health care providers, researchers and educators. Mr. O’Brien’s efforts also included the launch of UMass Memorial’s “Building Brighter Futures With Youth” (BBFWY) youth jobs initiative. This job development program, established in 2005, provides both summer and year‐round employment opportunities to youth. A collaborative effort with the City of Worcester, Worcester Community Action Council and other organizations, BBFWY places selected participants, like Akosua Sakyi, in employment positions and provides them with valuable on‐the‐job mentoring by UMass Memorial staff in departments across the Medical Center. Since the program’s inception, UMass Memorial has contributed approximately $1.5 million in funding to this program and provided nearly 400 youth jobs. Other Community Leadership John O’Brien’s impact in the Worcester community goes far beyond providing financial support to community initiatives. Though he could fulfill the hospital’s community benefits obligations by delegating involvement to other staff, he chooses to meet with neighborhood groups and listen directly to the issues impacting the underserved. He is passionate about the responsibility of committing to a community‐based agenda while running a $2.5 billion health care system.
He has played a critical role in leveraging additional funding and bringing and keeping other key stakeholders at the table and engaging them in these initiatives. Since 2006, he has also served as co‐chair of Common Pathways, a Healthy Communities coalition consisting of more than 60 public, nonprofit, and private sector entities that are working together to address social factors associated with health disparities and improve the quality of life for residents. Common Pathways works to enhance existing partnerships and promote new ones to address health disparities in our local community. John’s time and hands‐on participation has taken the health care system far beyond its’ own walls, and has brought it right into the community. By being present at the table, listening and troubleshooting with community, he has developed the trust, admiration and respect of neighborhood residents, government officials and key stakeholders. His contribution of time in community engagement exceeds the scope of what might normally be considered his “job description”. Further demonstrating his commitment to these efforts, Mr. O’Brien has said publically that he plans to remain “very involved” and continue to volunteer his time to these initiatives following his planned retirement from his current position in January, 2013. (listen to WTAG radio interviews below) Photo shows John O’Brien, President and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care, Inc. talking with residents and Worcester City Councilor Philip P. Palmieri at the “National Night Out” community event hosted by UMass Memorial in Worcester’s Bell Hillneighborhood.
John O’Brien has undoubtedly left his mark as a pillar in the Worcester community and champion for improving the lives of our city’s youth. His contribution goes far beyond his commitment of funding and resources. The contribution of his time and strong presence for these issues has played a pivotal role in the success and growth of Worcester’s youth jobs agenda and other community initiatives. Thank you again for your consideration of John O’Brien for Modern Healthcare’s Community Leadership Award. We join with our community in thanking him for his outstanding efforts and dedication to improving the quality of life and health of our local youth and residents. Sincerely, David L. Bennett, Esquire Chair, UMass Memorial Health Care, Inc. Board of Trustees Bennett & Forts, P.C. 1093 Main Street Holden, MA 01520 Related Media Clips WTAG Worcester Radio Talk Show Host Jordan Levy talks with John O’Brien about his contributions over the past decade to the Worcester community following John’s announcement of his upcoming retirement To listen, follow the links below. Once on the WTAG website, click on “Download” then open the MP3 audio file. John O’Brien, WTAG Jordan Levy interview, Segment 1 John O’Brien, WTAG Jordan Levy interview, Segment 2