Dr. Anthony Slonim, MD, DrPH, FACHE, President and CEO, celebrates his five-year anniversary with Renown Health, reflects on his leadership and looks forward to what this community can accomplish next.
This month, I celebrated my fifth anniversary as the president and chief executive officer of Renown Health and my move to Reno. Events like this are special times for all of us. Birthdays, anniversaries, be they personal or work, holidays and special events help to remind us about our human-ness. They represent opportunities to sit, reflect on what went well and where if you had the chance, you might ask for a “do-over.” They also represent a time to ponder all of the people you have met across a variety of circumstances and conditions-some good, and some not so good. At the end of it all, these special dates provide a moment to integrate all of the emotion and plan systematically about what might be next based on what you may have learned. How to be a better person and to continue to serve those who count on you for the decisions that you make.
The Fabric of Renown
Our community is very different today than it was just five years ago when I moved to town. So too, Renown Health, the community’s only locally governed, not-for-profit, integrated health system is also very different than it was when I arrived. We are fortunate to have so many dedicated board and advisory committee members from our community who offer their time and expertise to assure that we are serving the community’s needs. We have amazing physicians and providers in the community who are well-educated, trained and devote themselves to the needs of their patients. Our leadership team and employees, all 7,000 of them, are second to none and I would put them up against those in any other health system not only here, but anywhere in the country. Not only because they have great expertise and skills, they care. Community members, business associates and elected officials, are all part of a fabric that have helped me to understand what Renown has been, what it represents now, and what it could mean for our community as it continues to evolve.
One of my great mentors shared with me when I accepted this role that healthcare organizations are perpetual. By this, he meant that the efforts to support the community will be here long after any individual is gone. My role, as CEO is to assure that for the time we are stewards of the organization, we help it to thrive and assure that it is able to support the community for the long haul. In Renown’s case, we have served this community well, first as Washoe Medical Center, then as Renown Regional Medical Center, and now as Renown Health, a complex and integrated healthcare system of care with a complex array of hospitals, urgent care centers, physician practices, a health plan and a range of other healthcare services.
Health and Healthcare
A community’s health is one of the vital pillars upon which all people depend. It is similar in some ways to other community pillars like utilities for water and electricity, transportation and a public school system. These elements are so fundamental to our lives that we tend to take them for granted, until we need them. When I first arrived, our team had the privilege of establishing a new strategic plan. We oriented on a conversation of health and healthcare. Healthcare is what we do for you when you or your family is sick or injured. Health is a state of physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
From a healthcare perspective, Renown Health provides all of the things that you need when you are sick or injured. We support the trauma center in case you are in an accident or injured at work. We have an amazing children’s hospital, which cares for our most precious resource, our children, if they become sick or injured. And we provide care through all of life’s occurrences, whether you have pneumonia, a heart condition, develop cancer or deliver a baby. These services give me comfort in knowing that for me and my family, I can depend on this care right here at home in case I need it.
From a health perspective, Renown Health became more involved with the community to assure that all of its residents could live healthier. The fact is that here in northern Nevada we have struggled with health. We consistently rank at the bottom nationally of many health indicators. Despite the amazing environment, natural resources and recreational activities, all members of our community do not live healthy lives. Examples of this include the problems we experience with homelessness, affordable housing and access to healthy nutrition. The approach we have used is one known nationally as “population health,” which helps us to address the needs of populations and assure that we are providing better quality health and healthcare services at a lower cost and to improve the access to these services. This holistic approach aims to serve all members of our community, regardless of what challenges they may be experiencing in their lives.
At Renown, we have invested heavily in this “health” conversation and been able to work with some amazing partners. We have launched institutes whose sole focus is the health of our people. Currently, there are four institutes including the Child Health Institute, The Healthy Aging Institute, the Stacie Mathewson Behavioral Health and Addiction Institute and the Institute for Health Innovation. Together with our partners, we are helping to assure that Nevadans live healthier. We are working with other not-for-profits in the community who are local experts on some of these challenges and we have launched our own programing, like the Healthy Nevada Project, which offered free genetic testing to 40,000 people and helps us to better understand in what circumstances we may need to invest more because we are not healthy.
Moving Forward to Meet Our Communities’ Needs
Recently, the Renown Health Board and leadership met to create a new strategic plan. The plan was developed based on the input of thousands of employees, providers and community members who participated in a process and contributed to shaping Renown’s future direction. This plan is new in the sense that it helps to guide us over the next three years by making decisions that will help us to focus our work. This plan builds upon the great legacy that began as Washoe Medical Center some 100 years ago. I am so proud of the work that was accomplished. We reaffirmed our mission to make a genuine difference in the health and well-being of the people and communities we serve; our vision to inspire better health in our communities, and values of caring, integrity, collaboration and excellence. We “doubled-down” on our approach for population health because as a health system that started as a county hospital, we have a responsibility to assure that people not only receive the healthcare they need in times of crisis, but that we are there for them. Helping them live healthier, whether that is to help them lose weight, stop smoking, enhance their physical activity or to learn how to take a moment, pause and enjoy an afternoon with family or petting the dog. At the end of the day, nothing matters but our health. Until you are ill or injured, you may not actually realize that. So, the broader view and true success of a health system, is not only to assure that we care for you during those critical moments, but we help you to live life in a healthier state so that hopefully you will never need the care that we provide in our amazing healthcare programs.
I have been honored and humbled to serve this community as the President and CEO of Renown Health for the last five years and am appreciative of the support that we have received from our Boards, physicians, employees, donors, partners, business leaders, elected officials and community members. I am also appreciative of those who may have different opinions or pointed out how they thought we could have done things better. Only with this input can we learn, reflect and organize to be better tomorrow than we were today.
One thing is for sure. At Renown Health, we will continue to advance better health and healthcare for our community because we know that each and every one of you, and the people that you love, depend on us. As your community provider, we take this responsibility very seriously and will continue to “fight the good fight” to assure that our community enjoys a health status for which we can all be proud.
Yours in Good Health,
Anthony Slonim, MD, DrPH, FACHE