Back in the early nineties, two of my peers replicated the pro forma and business plan of an offer made by a for profit hospital system that was interested in buying a specific medical center. They then presented it to a religious order and ended up buying a hospital which many of us began to refer to as “Two Guys Medical Center.” The difference was that, unlike the religious order, they were interested in it for some personal financial gain, the American way. Once the cash flow turned into a trickle, they found their way clear of ownership with heavy golden parachutes from the organization that bought the hospital, and it became the gift that kept on giving. All in all I’m sure that it was a very lucrative series of events that, after their or my death would make for a great fiction novel.
As I prepared for my departure from my previous employer, the entire issue of identifying someone to continue to carry the torch of leadership weighed heavily on my mind. Succession planning, if you will, was never far from my thoughts. With that in mind, I looked into the region and found, well, two guys. These two guys were very different from the previous two mentioned. They were committed to the good of mankind on so many levels that no one could question their personal intentions. Over a year later, the reality of their futures does not lie firmly in my hands when succession is discussed, but they certainly are two people to watch as the region’s health systems continue to morph medically.
Only four short years ago, Tom Kurtz, one of my two recruits, was working diligently every day in every way to ensure that four heart stents was an inadequate number for my chest. It had been his job at the competitor to literally master my strategic plan and to replicate it at an even higher level. He found federal, state, and local funds to begin a neuro-science center, research in post polio syndrome, work in anesthesia that would be converted to the battlefield, and, in his spare time to build and promote a Tech Park for the City of Johnstown.
We were usually friendly, but fierce competitors. He honestly has never told me the entire story of his journey with his former employer’s leadership, but I’m sure it would fill about ten of these blog posts. Tom was a master at political nuance and learned quite a bit about grants from the Department of Defense. He not only knew where to find them, he learned how to get the monies delivered to the projects for which he was responsible. Tom is progressive, aggressive, and knowledgeable about both the need to find sustainability on the research side and growth on the hospital side. When it comes to the “vision thing,” Tom embraced that as well. He’s not one of those cant-see-the-forest-for-the-trees guys. In fact, he is just the opposite of that. He sees the big picture and quickly embraces just exactly how things can be in the future with a little guts and a lot of persistence.
Then came Matt. Dr. Matt Masiello has been a friend for over a decade. He represents almost everything that I embrace philosophically. Matt is a gentle and kind man who fully comprehends the value of treating human beings like human beings. A background as a pediatrician has enabled him to understand compassion, and after having been in charge of intensive care for years, he has also learned of the heartbreak that this profession can bring. Dr. Matt captured my attention a year or so ago when, like me, he got involved with the World Health Organization. This time, however, he went way beyond my wildest dreams and has literally been appointed the U.S. representative for the WHO.
When my short history on this planet is finally written, let it be said that Matt and Tom have had a tremendous impact on our community, our region, and now our world as special attention is given to breast cancer research, and as health and wellness, prevention and anti-bullying programs are nurtured, cultivated, and grown by these two men. No, it’s not “Two Guys Medical Center,” but it sure is a medical center that has been positively impacted by two guys. Keep up the good work, Matt and Tom. This region needs you.