Rob Montagnese – 2014 nominee for Modern Healthcare's Community Leadership Award


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Rob Montagnese – 2014 nominee for Modern Healthcare's Community Leadership Award.

The success of the healthcare industry depends on leaders who define themselves by leading efforts to change lives and contribute to their communities through their work. But many go above and beyond commitments central to their roles, reaching out to support causes that may be wholly unrelated to healthcare, but which build and sustain strong communities and the quality of life within them. Modern Healthcare's Community Leadership Awards was established to recognize these leaders while bringing attention to the worthy causes they support. Modern Healthcare's Community Leadership Awards was established to recognize these leaders while bringing attention to the worthy causes they support.

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Rob Montagnese – 2014 nominee for Modern Healthcare's Community Leadership Award

  1. 1. Community Leadership Award Nomination for Robert A. Montagnese, President & CEO, Licking Memorial Health Systems Licking County, Ohio, has many amenities that enrich its residents’ lives, including a beautiful, tranquil setting with rolling hills and the winding Licking River (named for the salt licks that were once located on the banks). The county seat, Newark, is home to a branch of The Ohio State University, parks, Native American sites, museums, theaters, banking headquarters, shopping, manufacturing, technological industry and the award-winning Licking Memorial Hospital. However, there is a pervasive danger in the community that imperils the residents’ lives – unhealthy lifestyle choices. The rates of obesity and tobacco smoking in Licking County are among the highest in the state. Not surprisingly, the county residents also have high rates of heart disease and lifestyle-related cancers. As President & CEO of the county’s largest healthcare provider, Rob is charged with ensuring residents have access to the high-quality care they need as these conditions develop, but as a member of the community, he is making it a personal mission to reach far beyond the Hospital walls to prevent catastrophic conditions from developing whenever possible by providing the tools and education the residents need to improve their own health. Rob’s administrative and financial performance at LMHS has a superior track record. LMHS has operated with a surplus each year since 2006, when he assumed the top position, and no staffing layoffs occurred during the recent nationwide economic downturn. In addition, Rob’s endeavors to reshape the community’s health have defied the traditional CEO’s role. He is just as likely to be found working in the community as in his leather executive chair. Extent of Departure from Core Job Responsibilities It does not deter Rob when the community has a problem outside the usual parameters of health care. If a community-wide need is unfulfilled and LMHS has the appropriate resources, Rob will put the wheels in motion for LMHS’ 1,700-plus staff to work on a solution. The community demonstrated the depth of their trust and dependence on LMHS for remedies in 2012, after a major storm swept through Ohio, leaving thousands of county residents without power for as long as nine days. With no means of communication, families flocked to LMH for refuge from a severe summer heat wave. LMH was able to maintain full services to patients with no noticeable lapse of electricity thanks to the Hospital’s three 2,000 kW backup generators and uninterruptable power supply. At the same time, Rob ensured that LMH provided air conditioning, power for home health equipment, and freshly prepared food to the hundreds of impromptu visitors. In addition, the LMH Food Services Department provided meals for other organizations, such as the American Red Cross of Licking County and the Licking County Aging Program so that they could continue serving their clients. Heart to Play Just before Rob assumed the position of President & CEO, LMHS had tested a new program that offered free pre-participation screenings for the county’s high school athletes. Rob recognized the program’s potential to protect students’ health, and championed the program’s rapid expansion.
  2. 2. Today, the Heart to Play program is offered to all of Licking County’s middle and high school students who participate in any physically demanding program, such as sports, marching band, or vocational training for firefighting and law enforcement. The screenings include free electrocardiograms (EKGs) and baseline evaluations for concussion assessments. From 2008 to 2013, the EKGs detected serious heart defects in 23 students, including several cases of life-threatening Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome that placed the students at an elevated risk for sudden collapse or even death during physical exertion. LMHS Active•Fit Youth Wellness Program Childhood obesity is a concern throughout the United States – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 17 percent of children and adolescents, age 2 to 19 years, are affected. In Licking County, that rate is probably even higher. The Ohio Department of Health reports that 31 percent of the county’s third grade students are overweight or obese. Rob was dismayed by this growing trend because, as a hospital administrator, he understands that childhood obesity paves the way for serious health consequences in adulthood, including heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. He began searching for a way to reverse the unhealthy lifestyle choices that put the county’s youth at risk. Rob’s solution is an ambitious, innovative approach called the LMHS Active•Fit Youth Wellness Program. In 2012, LMHS partnered with Newark Advocate Media to sponsor a year-round program to address childhood obesity through healthy eating, increased activity and proper sleep. The goal is to help youth develop healthy lifestyle habits that will follow them into adulthood. Active•Fit has had tremendous success in its initial two years, attracting more than 1,000 participants and earning two prestigious awards: Program of Promise Award by Jackson Healthcare, and Community Outreach Award by Columbus Business First. Much of the program’s success is due to the presentations that Rob and other LMHS employees gave at 25 elementary school assemblies. Rob also attends many of the Active•Fit events to interact with the participating youth. Free Active•Fit events that promote youth wellness have included:  Kick-off event with inflatable games  Autumn nature hike at Black Hand Gorge  Wii Just Dance Party  Junior Chef cooking class at C-TEC vocational school  Active•Fit Challenge at The Works museum  Healthy snacks at opening ceremonies for youth baseball in Licking County  Bowling Day at Park Lanes Bowling  Field Day at Alford-Reese Park  1K Race at The Dawes Arboretum  Active•Fit Triathlon (running, bicycling and swimming) Quit for Your Health Tobacco Cessation Program Rob authorized LMHS to underwrite the cost of free tobacco cessation services for the community. LMHS’ Quit for Your Health program began in 2009, after the state discontinued its smoking cessation program funding. The Ohio Department of Health reports that 23 percent of adult residents in Licking County smoke cigarettes. Last year, 849 individuals were referred to
  3. 3. the Quit for Your Health counselors, and 63 percent reported that they were still tobacco-free six months after completing the program. Breastfeeding Promotion and Support Program To encourage new mothers in Licking County to provide their newborns with the best nutrition possible, Rob approved a program at LMH that gives a free electric breast pump to expectant mothers who complete the education-based program requirements. During the first year of the program, 254 patients completed the required training and received free breast pumps. Under Rob’s management, the Hospital also opened a new Outpatient Lactation Clinic with a board-certified lactation consultant to provide support, education and assistance to breastfeeding mothers from Licking County, even if they are not LMHS patients. Leading by Example Grassroots Wellness Rob sets a personal example for LMHS’ 1,700-plus employees by eating a healthy diet and exercising daily. In turn, he encourages LMHS employees to make positive changes in their own lifestyles to inspire healthier habits within their families and throughout the community. LMHS was recognized as a 2013 Healthiest Employer by Columbus Business First for the employee wellness program that was developed under Rob’s leadership. It includes free fitness center access, weight loss counseling, health screenings and incentivized flu immunizations. Setting an Example for Other Corporations As the President & CEO of the county’s only Hospital and largest employer, Rob’s actions carry a great deal of influence in the local business environment. He bases his executive decisions on the best interest of the entire community – not just LMHS. His ideology is that LMHS has the responsibility to provide new services that are needed in the community as long as the services can be provided at a high rate of excellence and LMHS can afford the expenditure – even if the service is not predicted to be profitable. In 2013, LMHS contributed more than $2.6 million worth of community benefits. Rob has set a goal for LMHS to endow one tangible major gift and provide one new service each year to promote the community’s health. Gifts to the community have included:  12-lead EKG donations – LMHS donated more than $350,000 to Licking County’s EMS Departments to equip their vehicles with standardized, up-to-date EKG transmission equipment.  Automated external defibrillator (AED) donations – LMHS donated more than 100 AEDs to local schools, law enforcement agencies, government buildings and sports facilities. LMHS also provided training for using the AEDs.  Donation of cardio equipment to high schools – LMHS donated $75,000 worth of new cardiovascular exercise equipment to the county’s 14 high schools and vocational school. LMHS’ donation included 29 rowing machines, 13 exercise bikes, three elliptical machines and two treadmills.  Thermal imaging cameras – LMHS purchased thermal imaging cameras for the county’s fire departments.  Family Movie Nights – LMHS offers free outdoor full-feature films as part of Rob’s objective to promote healthy, family-oriented activities. The Family Movie Nights are
  4. 4. very popular, with hundreds of community members attending each event, including Rob, along with his wife, Lauren, and their three children. New LMHS community benefit services that began under Rob’s leadership include:  School Nurse Program – When two local school districts eliminated their school nurse positions due to financial difficulties in 2012, LMHS filled each vacancy with an experienced registered nurse who is qualified to dispense students’ prescriptions and perform other health-related tasks.  Oncology Patient Navigator team – After the American Cancer Society discontinued its Patient Navigator services at LMH in 2011, Rob created an Oncology Patient Navigator team so that LMH’s cancer patients could continue receiving education and assistance as they progress through the treatment process.  Licking Memorial Dental Clinic for Children – LMHS opened a dental clinic in 2010, in partnership with two local dentists and a grant from the Licking County Foundation, to provide free and reduced-rate pediatric dental services to families in financial need.  Demand Response program – LMHS joined a program that is designed to protect the electrical transmission grid from massive blackouts. Under the program, LMHS voluntarily reduces usage during peak periods by switching to generator power, helping to save the community from potential power shortages.  Kids’ Place – LMHS assumed the financial responsibility and administration of a local child advocacy center that evaluates young victims of suspected abuse.  Expanded community education – LMHS offers free educational programs and screenings to community members. Under Rob’s leadership, the number of Community Education programs has increased with subjects, such as “Skin Cancer Awareness and Screening,” and “Losing Weight the Safe and Effective Way.” Youth Activity and Sports Sponsorships As a way to promote lifelong wellness, LMHS sponsors dozens of youth activities and sports programs, and the LMHS Youth League Scholarship Program provides opportunities for area youth to participate in recreational team sports. Although it is not well known, Rob also personally assists financially strapped families who cannot afford the required fees and equipment for their children to participate in organized sports. Disney Each year, one Licking County family that has faced extraordinary health-related difficulties receives a surprise, all-expenses-paid vacation to Disney World. LMHS managers are asked to recommend patients for the project, without knowledge of Rob’s patronage. One recipient family included a mother and her young daughters who had been molested. She wrote a thank-you note that expressed her gratitude for the uplifting experience. For her, the best part of the trip was the sight of one daughter smiling for the first time since the molestation had occurred. Rob is a big fan of Disney World – as a business model in addition to its entertainment culture. He often encourages the LMHS staff to find ways to apply Disney’s family values and customer service philosophies to their own daily responsibilities.
  5. 5. Voluntary Nature of the Work Outside of the Organization or Corporation Rob extends his personal impact beyond LMHS through leadership roles in many other non-profit organizations in the community. His current and recent activities include:  Ohio Hospital Association Board of Trustees – As a trustee, Rob helps to set policies that govern Ohio’s hospitals.  Citizens for Parks, Paths & Trails – Rob served as Chairman for the committee to promote passage of a levy in 2012 to save the Licking Park District’s system of parks and trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding.  Salvation Army of Licking County Advisory Board – Rob currently serves as Treasurer and is Past President. He was Chairman of the Capital Campaign to raise more than $4 million for a new emergency homeless shelter. Rob also arranges an annual beef donation to the Salvation Army’s kitchen through LMHS’ support of local youth 4-H livestock projects.  Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Licking and Perry Counties – Rob proved that he is willing to champion worthy causes that are facing hardship. He joined the BBBS Board of Directors during a difficult time when the local chapter was scandalized by a criminal offense. Rob’s involvement has helped to rebuild and strengthen the BBBS’ reputation. He established the annual Beat Michigan Bash, which is one of the organization’s biggest fundraisers. He currently serves as Treasurer of the BBBS Foundation Board and is Past President.  First Federal Savings and Loan – Rob serves as a Board Member.  Midland Theatre – He served as a Board Member for the events venue.  The Works Museum – Rob serves as a Board Member of the Museum.  The Newark Campus Development Fund – He serves as a Board Member to raise funds and create opportunities at the local branch of The Ohio State University that shares a campus with Central Ohio Technical College.  Our Futures in Licking County – Rob serves as a Board Member of this coalition that aims to improve the social, educational, economic and safety environment for the county’s youth through anti-drug/alcohol/tobacco programs.  Kendal at Granville – He was a Board Member of the continuing care retirement community.  Newark Rotary Club – As an active member, he volunteers with the annual live benefit auction and helped raise funds for a large, special needs playground.  Roundtable discussions and community speaking engagements – On his own time, Rob accepts frequent opportunities to promote LMHS’ services to the community.  Basketball, football and baseball coach Demonstrated Positive Impact of the Work Rob’s emphasis on community citizenship inspires his staff to redouble their own efforts to contribute. LMHS and many individual staff members have received prestigious recognitions for their above-and-beyond initiatives and performances that were made possible through Rob’s support and appropriations. Awards from the regional, state and national levels also demonstrate that LMHS is well funded to provide top quality care. A sample of the many recognitions that LMHS and its staff have received under Rob’s leadership includes:  100 Top Hospitals by Truven Health Analytics  “A” Rating by The Leapfrog Group (national award given to LMHS)  Consumer Reports Hospital Ratings – Surgery Safety (national award given to LMH)
  6. 6.  Patient Safety Excellence Award by Healthgrades (national recognition given to LMH)  100 Great Community Hospitals by Becker’s Hospital Review (national recognition given to LMH)  Most Wired Award by McKesson Corp., AT&T, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, and the American Hospital Association (national recognition given to LMHS)  Green Star Merit Award by Professional Grounds Management Society (national award given to LMHS for landscaping achievement)  Healthcare Heroes – Community Outreach Award by Columbus Business First (regional award given to LMHS’ Active•Fit Youth Wellness Program)  Hospital Charitable Service Award – Program of Promise by Jackson Healthcare (national recognition given to LMHS’ Active•Fit Youth Wellness Program)  Best Places to Work by Columbus Business First (regional award given to LMHS)  Healthiest Employer by Columbus Business First (regional award given to LMHS)  Lifetime Call to Service Award by The White House’s USA Freedom Corps (national honor given to 17 LMH volunteers)  Home Care Elite Top 500™ (national award given to Licking Memorial Home Care)  1st Place Overall in Operation Feed Campaign by Food Pantry Network of Licking County (local recognition given to the LMHS staff)  Provider Award by Columbus Business First (regional award given to Richard A. Baltisberger, M.D.)  Care for the Underserved Award by Columbus Business First (regional award given to Diane M. LeMay, M.D.)  Childhood Immunization Champion Award by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (national award given to Diane M. LeMay, M.D.)  Physician of the Year by Lifeline of Ohio (state award given to Ann V. Govier, M.D.)  Non-Profit CFO of the Year by Columbus Business First (regional recognition given to Cindy Webster)  Transaction of the Year Award by Columbus Business First (regional recognition given to LMHS) Some organizations have been so impressed by the sheer volume and quality of Rob’s contributions to the community and the field of healthcare that they have honored his efforts with personal recognitions. Awards that Rob has received since becoming LMHS President & CEO in 2006 include:  Friends of Ohio Hospitals MVP Award by the Ohio Hospital Association  Forty Under 40 recognition by Columbus Business First  John W. Alford Memorial “Grand Illusions Award” by Ohio Cancer Research Associates  Healthcare Hero by American Red Cross of Licking County – special 10-year recognition Personal Information Rob received a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting from Wittenberg University and a Master of Healthcare Administration from The Ohio State University. Additionally, he is a certified public accountant and a member of the Ohio Society of CPAs and the Healthcare Financial Management Association.
  7. 7. He joined LMHS as a summer file clerk after high school, and then became a full-time employee in 1993. He worked his way up through the ranks at LMHS – as Controller and Accounting Manager, Senior Vice President Financial Services, and Executive Vice President before attaining his current position in 2006. Under his leadership, LMH expanded with the new John & Mary Alford Pavilion surgery and emergency care addition, the acquisition of a local surgery hospital, two off-campus Urgent Care facilities, and new physician practices. Rob lives in Licking County and is deeply involved in his family’s activities. He regularly attends his children’s school and sporting events and recently served on the Watkins Turf Committee that raised $600,000 in private donations to install synthetic turf on the Watkins Memorial High School football field. The levy committees in his school district know they can count him as one of their most active volunteers. Giving new mothers a free electric breast pump that normally retails for more than $300, or providing cigarette smokers with nicotine replacement supplies that are often worth more than $500 may not make sense on an accounting ledger, but Rob views these steps as “the right thing to do.” He frequently uses that phrase as he leads others into contributing their talents and resources toward improving the health of the community. Rob leads by example – inspiring his own staff members and other business leaders in the community. He views the Licking County community as part of his family – needing care, nurturing and guidance. By seeking out and enacting proactive solutions, Rob provides the kind of outstanding leadership that boosts the community’s prognosis for a healthier future.
  8. 8. AEDs Save Lives at YMCA Approximately 1,000 Americans die each day from sudden cardiac arrest, according to a report published by the American Heart Association. Many of those deaths could have been prevented if the victims had received prompt treatment. Locally, two men survived, in unrelated cases, after suffering sudden cardiac arrest within 24 hours of each other while exercising at the Licking County Family YMCA in November. In each case, an automated external defibrillator (AED) that was donated by Licking Memorial Health Systems (LMHS) in 2011 delivered the life-saving electrical impulse. In both incidences, the men survived their heart attacks and were able to return to normal daily activities within a couple of weeks. One of the patients, 44-year-old Jon Bowers, took a break from work on November 21 to exercise at the YMCA. Jon, who is Executive Director of Licking Areas Computer Association, was training for his next triathlon event. “I do not remember anything that happened, but I have been told that I suddenly collapsed while I was on the treadmill." Licking County Family YMCA representatives Dana Rublo (left) and Ed Bohren (right) accepted a donated AED device from LMHS President & CEO Rob Montagnese (center) in September 2011. In November 2011, the device was credited with saving the lives of two YMCA members who had heart attacks. AEDs Save Lives at YMCA (continued on page 4) JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 AEDs Save Lives at YMCA (continued from page 3) Another YMCA member, Cody Mason, L.P.N., quickly sprang to Jon's side and discovered that he was not breathing. YMCA Health and Wellness Coordinator Constance Wedemeyer began CPR while YMCA employee Trish Harrison grabbed the AED from its well-displayed place on the wall. Cody took over performing CPR while Constance used the AED to deliver a single shock to Jon's chest, following the AED's instructions. Emergency medical technicians from the Newark Fire Department arrived just four minutes after receiving the 9-1-1 call, and by that time, Jon had already regained a pulse and was breathing. When Jon arrived by ambulance at the Emergency Department of Licking Memorial Hospital (LMH), Cardiologist Debra Heldman, M.D., was already aware of his heart rhythm through the ambulance’s 12-lead EKG equipment that was also donated by LMHS. Dr. Heldman quickly diagnosed Jon’s condition as acute myocardial infarction, and he was taken to the Catheterization Lab for a stent implantation. Jon was released from LMH three days later. “There is no history of heart disease in my family, and I did not have any of the usual risk factors,” Jon said. “My wife and I have two young children, and the heart attack came as a big shock to all of us. It was so unexpected because I am active and try to take care of myself.” Within one month of his heart attack, Jon was able to return to his workouts at the YMCA. “I cannot overstate how grateful I am to the people who were there to help me, and to LMHS for donating the AED equipment,” he said. “That is why I am alive right now. This experience has made me very conscious of where AEDs are located, and whether people are trained to use them in an emergency.” Since 2005, LMHS has redoubled efforts to prevent cardiac deaths in Licking County. Because many cardiac deaths occur before the patient arrives at the hospital, LMHS donated more than $198,000 for approximately 150 AEDs, that were placed in various county locations, including, emergency medical vehicles, law enforcement vehicles, schools, youth athletic fields and Newark City Hall. LMHS also provided training to ensure that bystanders would feel confident to use the AEDs before first-responders could arrive. In other sudden cardiac death prevention measures, LMHS equipped all Licking County’s emergency medical vehicles with uniform 12-lead EKG transmissions, as well as upgrades, at a cost of more than $350,000. In addition, LMHS has offered free pre-participation sports screenings for Licking County’s high school students in 2006. That program, called Heart to Play, has grown to include middle school students and offers free EKG screenings for additional protection against sudden cardiac arrest during activities. LMHS underwrites the cost of the Heart to Play program so that the screenings can be provided to students free of charge.