WHEELING - For Ron Violi, being named a Health Care Hero of the Year isn't just about his personal accomplishments, it's "about our doctors, nurses and other staff" who worked to transform Wheeling Hospital "into the premier facility it is today."
Violi, CEO of Wheeling Hospital, earned the Health Care Hero of the Year distinction last week. The honor is given annually by the Pittsburgh Business Times.
Violi was one of three finalists in the Health Care Executive category for the Pittsburgh region. At an awards banquet last week at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh, Violi learned he won the top distinction.
"It is an honor to have been selected, especially considering the other nominees for this award," he said. "When I came to Wheeling in 2006, there was a lot of work to do in restoring the viability of the hospital, while at the same time helping meet the area residents' medical needs, which in certain case were severely lacking or nonexistent.
"But make no mistake; this award isn't just about me. It's about our doctors, nurses and other staff who worked so hard to transform the hospital into the premier facility it is today.
"It's about Bishop Michael Bransfield who is dedicated to enhancing health care for the state, and, most importantly, it's about the area's residents."
Violi said the award also helps boost Wheeling's image since people in Pittsburgh, one of the nation's leading health care centers, recognize the high level health care found locally.
In addition to Violi, others vying for the Health Care Executive of the Year were Ken DeFurio, president and chief executive officer, Butler (Pa.) Health System, and, Geoffrey Gehrig, assistant vice president, Senior Independence of Southwest Pennsylvania. There were 38 health care professionals competing in nine categories.
This marked the first year that a Wheeling-area health care professional was nominated.
One of the three independent judges for the awards was Paula Koczan, an attorney for Weber Gallagher in Pittsburgh. Reflecting on her selection of Violi, she noted, "For me, I was looking for someone who not only did their job, but went far beyond the call. He's just done a tremendous job."
During the banquet, Violi's accomplishments that led to the award were announced. Among them were:
Returning the hospital to profitability after it suffered seven straight years of losses prior to his arrival.
The construction of the seven-story, $53-million Tower 5 building addition, which includes one of the nation's most modern Emergency/Trauma Centers, new Critical Care Unit and pediatrics floor.
Reducing or eliminating the need for patients and their families to travel to other cities for certain medical care by significantly increasing the number of specialty physicians and surgeons at the hospital.
"I think the bottom line is what we can do for the community. For me, that's the big payback," Violi said. "I'm very proud that this institution has been able to contribute as much as it has to this community."