- October 11, 2018
Hometown: Westfield, N.J.
Previous political offices: None
About: I am a Sarasota County Public Hospital Board member after previously serving as a member of the Finance Committee. After graduating from Villanova University, I spent my career (38 years in the Information Technology industry — 30+ years of that with IBM) leading teams to achieve success through a relentless focus on pursuing excellence as well as high customer and employee satisfaction. Most recently, over the last 10 years, I held senior and executive management positions with IBM and Novell directing global business operations teams, i.e., the ‘running’ of the business while meeting and exceeding customer, organizational and financial goals. Additionally, I have extensive public service experience including Boys and Girls Club board member, United Way campaign account executive, Deer Creek Community Association vice president and president.
Why do you want to serve on the hospital board?
As a member of the hospital board, I am committed to ensuring that the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare System provides the excellent medical care that you need and expect. I have both the business and board experience required to provide the leadership necessary to keep SMH the great hospital that it is.
The Sarasota Memorial Hospital Board, executive team, as well as our experienced and highly-skilled doctors, nurses and hospital staff work together every day to ensure the highest quality of patient care and satisfaction for our entire Sarasota County community. This is reflected in the numerous awards SMH has achieved, most notably the Federal Government’s CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) 5-star award for overall quality and safety. Only 2% of hospitals nationwide achieved this recognition level.
What qualifies you to oversee the fiscal health of the Sarasota Memorial Health Care System?
As a Hospital Board Member, you are responsible for the oversight of the entire SMH Healthcare System (~$700 million in operating revenue, 5000 employees) including quality of care, strategic direction/mission, management, compliance, advocacy and financial vitality. Having served SMH over the last two years as a member of the finance committee and the hospital board, as well as my executive management business career, I am uniquely qualified. For example, during my career at Novell, I was the senior director of global field operations. I directed the global business operations team on the ‘running’ of the company while meeting and exceeding customer, organizational and financial goals. All of this experience directly translates to the operations of SMH.
What is your position on how the hospital board should use and manage its taxing authority? Do you have a position on whether the current millage rate should be raised or lowered?
The hospital board takes its taxing authority responsibility very seriously. The tax rate remained flat from 2010 through 2015. For 2016. the tax rate was reduced 3% and was just held flat again for 2017. All this while improving and expanding medical services over the last several years throughout Sarasota County, including the Courtyard Tower, Level II Trauma Center, North Port Emergency Room and the sixth Urgent Care Center at St. Armands. The Nursing and Rehabilitation Center is under construction and will open December 2016. New plans include the Newtown Internal Medicine Residency Program and the North Port Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Clinic.
Looking forward toward 2018, I am committed to keeping the tax millage rate flat or reducing it if possible. The population growth and medical needs of Sarasota County will obviously be factored in as the 2018 budget is developed for the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare System.
If elected, what do you believe should be the top priority of the board during your term?
My top priority would be to continue to expand high quality medical services throughout Sarasota County, and this includes south county (i.e. the North Port, Venice areas). This means additional facilities and medical providers – examples being a comprehensive cancer center in Sarasota, physician recruitment in North Port and expanded behavioral health programs. The availability of the highest-quality, patient-focused healthcare system matters, because your health matters.
A proposed hospital in Venice is just one of the ways SMH has attempted to grow over the past few years. Do you favor or oppose pursuing a hospital in Venice? Why?
I support a hospital in Venice. Clearly, the addition of a hospital facility in south county would provide the residents there with a new and convenient source of high-quality, advanced emergency and medical services much closer to where they live. As a public hospital, Sarasota Memorial is focused on providing and expanding high quality medical care to all patients within the county – this is the next logical step in that process. Plus, it will help to ease capacity issues at the main hospital location in Sarasota during the winter months when our population peaks. The feedback from residents in south Sarasota County on this question has been resoundingly positive. A recent letter summed it up perfectly: “…please bring SMH to Venice”.
What is your position on building a hospital in Sarasota County's largest city, North Port?
I support having a hospital in North Port, and it will take planning, medical resources and time. SMH opened a free-standing ER in North Port five years ago to bring emergency and outpatient services to the community. We just recently announced plans, along with Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, to open a pediatric specialty clinic on the second floor of the ER building. I support the continued effort to bring new and additional medical practices to the North Port area, including primary and internal medicine care, obstetrics and specialty care. This will build the medical services capability that a new hospital requires.
What is your position on doing what Venice and other communities have done — selling and privatizing the hospital system and using the proceeds in a community foundation?
I am completely opposed to privatizing SMH. As a public hospital, SMH’s performance by all measures has been very strong. SMH is the only hospital on the Suncoast and only one of two hospitals in Florida to earn the Federal Government’s CMS 5-star award for overall quality and safety. Additionally, SMH is well managed with a strong balance sheet and financial operating margin which allows for expanding services, all while reducing the tax revenue received as a percentage of total revenue over the last several years.
Private for-profit hospitals do not provide many of the services of a public hospital. SMH is the only hospital in the county that provides childbirth services, neonatal intensive care, inpatient pediatrics care, a Level II trauma center and inpatient psychiatric services. SMH also has a Community Medical Clinic that provides a wide range of free diagnostic and specialty care for underinsured or uninsured patients.