Mount Carmel was well represented at the Columbus CEO Healthcare Achievement Awards. The awards recognize those making Columbus healthier. Mount Carmel earned recognition in six of the eight categories and had four total honorees. Below are the stories of the winners.
In the position since: 1988
Day-to-day responsibilities: Provides leadership for all aspects of the operation of the Mount Carmel College of Nursing in accordance with policies developed by the board of trustees; develops and oversees implementation of college’s strategic plan; responsible for all financial aspects of the college, faculty and executive staffing
Education: Ohio State University, bachelor of science in nursing (1962); OSU, master of science in nursing (1964); OSU, PhD in higher education administration (1996)
Wind Ann Schiele up and she’ll talk until you feel like old friends. She’ll tell you everything you want to know—not about herself, but about the Mount Carmel College of Nursing. Schiele has spent her entire 52-year career at Mount Carmel, first as a nurse then as an educator and administrator. After half a century, the line between the woman and the institution has begun to blur.
Schiele is the longest-sitting president of any college or university in the state. As the first president of the college, she played a central role in transforming it from a nursing certification program into an accredited degree-granting institution. She’s preparing to retire in July, but that hasn’t made her sentimental about her career.
“I don’t think I have a legacy,” says Schiele. “All the people in the college collectively, we’ve all taken the best things from each other. I think the legacy of the college a hundred years from now will be that it cares about its students.”
Her colleagues praise that dedication to the college of nursing.
“Ann Schiele is an excellent example of what a great work ethic and an unyielding drive for excellence can achieve,” wrote Claus von Zychlin, president and CEO of Mount Carmel Health System, in his letter nominating Schiele for the Lifetime Achievement award.
“She has dedicated both her personal and professional life to serving as a role model, and her commitment to her patients, students and Mount Carmel is unmatched,” wrote Sister Barbara Hahl, senior vice president of system mission for Mount Carmel, in her nomination letter.
The Ohio Board of Regents was leery when Schiele first proposed accrediting the school as a specialized college. Schiele took the board’s skepticism as a challenge.
“All you’ve got to do is tell me that you don’t think I can do it, and I thrive on that. That’s when it becomes fun,” says Schiele with an ornery smile.
For a year and a half, the school pursued approval and worked with the Regents’ accreditation team. The Mount Carmel School of Nursing was accredited as a private, specialized four-year college in 1990. There were 36 students in the first graduating class. Today, the college is among the largest baccalaureate nursing programs in Ohio with 1,121 students.
The college celebrated its centennial in 2003 by introducing a master of science in nursing degree program. An online RN to BSN program has been very successful. The college is finalizing a formal relationship with Columbus State Community College to allow students earning associate degrees to take concurrent non-nursing courses towards their bachelor’s degrees at Mount Carmel. A doctor of nursing program is also in the early stages of development.
Admission to the college is competitive, but grades alone don’t make a great nurse, cautions Schiele.
“You may be the brightest individual there is…but if you don’t care for and like to work with people, then you should not in any way be thinking of working in nursing,” she says.
Schiele has no plans to slow down after retirement. Her new role as president and dean emeritus will simply free her up to focus on her efforts with the underserved in Franklinton. In partnership with Franklinton’s Lower Lights Christian Health Center, Schiele developed the Nursing Center for Family Health. The center services 70 people a day, says Schiele.
As an undergraduate, Schiele was assigned to community service in Franklinton as part of a public health course. That inspired her to apply for nursing work at Mount Carmel West. She has been devoted to improving access to healthcare on the city’s West Side ever since.
“I don’t see Franklinton through a lens of a very poverty-stricken area,” says Schiele. Instead, she sees an opportunity for those with “a little bit” to help those in need. “I tell my students that I believe each educated man and woman needs to give back to the community in which he or she lives.”
The family nursing center carries forth Mount Carmel’s legacy while meeting the demands of an evolving healthcare ecosystem.
“Health care is changing from an ill care setting to population health,” says Schiele. All nursing students are required to perform community service as part of the curriculum. That mandate carries on the legacy of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, who founded the nursing school with social responsibility as a core value.
Looking to the future, Schiele is confident in the school’s continued growth. In three years, she predicts enrollment will top 1,400. She is confident in the leadership of incoming dean, Christine Wynd. She intends to keep building personal relationships in the community to advance the work of the college and the nursing center.
“Once people know you and they know your mission and know who you are, just maybe they’ll believe in it,” says Schiele with a wink and a smile.
strong>In the position since: 2008
Day-to-day responsibilities: Coordinates all services of the Mount Carmel Outreach Mobile Coach and Street Medicine Program, directs staff and upholds the standards of care for the program’s patients
Education: Rio Grande College of Nursing, registered nurse graduate (1994); bachelor of science in nursing, Mount Carmel College of Nursing (2009)
The story of Mount Carmel’s outreach efforts is one of visionary growth. Starting as a humble nursing outreach program, the addition of a 40-foot medical mobile coach in 1998 primed the operation to become the network of medical, mental health and social service providers that in 2013 served 2,900 uninsured people living in poverty, in shelters or on the streets of Columbus.
Ladonya Brady has led the program’s expansion since 2008, utilizing its resources to maximize benefits to patients, medical providers and social services agencies. She’s done so with the care of a missionary and the skill of an experienced nurse.
“I love being able to work with patients,” says Brady, who takes nursing shifts in the clinic’s multiple locations as necessary. “I enjoy that personally, and yet I know that the thing that I’m able to do in my management role is bring people together and being able to affect change that way, it’s better across the board.”
Brady wanted to be a missionary as a girl, which led her to nursing as a means to finance charitable travels. She has yet to go on a mission, but says she’s found her calling right here at home.
As Mount Carmel’s Mobile Outreach Program clinical manager, she’s got influence within an organization that allows her to do her best work for the underserved. Mount Carmel Health System’s executive staff and the Mount Carmel Foundation “really put their money where their mission is,” Brady says.
The Outreach Mobile Coach is an urgent care facility on wheels. Its two exam rooms make the rounds of nine central Ohio sites on a rotating schedule. Its staff includes a family physician, nurse practitioner, registered nurses, medical technicians, bilingual case workers and administrative support workers. In 2010, the mobile coach added the Street Medicine program to its services. For this program, a nurse practitioner, med tech and patient advocate make the rounds of the city’s homeless camps, providing what care they can on the spot.
“Ladonya’s dedication to our patients is apparent through her passion and her coordination efforts that have brought together multiple community resources,” writes Sister Barbara Hahl, senior vice president of system mission for the Mount Carmel Health System.
The story of the Mount Carmel Outreach Mobile Coach is an anthology of the stories of the program’s thousands of patients. Brady seems to know many of them like family, relating the tales of their treatment with compassion and pride.
Among the challenges of her work is overcoming discouragement when patients aren’t ready to accept help. Addiction, mental health and trust issues arising from abuse are often internal barriers to patient treatment, says Brady. She recalls treating a woman while covering a nursing shift last year.
“The hopelessness that she had overwhelmed me,” says Brady. Though she offered the patient rehab treatment and domestic violence resources, Brady says “a hug was all she was willing to receive” at that time. The patient has yet to return to the Mobile Outreach Coach.
Brady says she and the staff overcome those discouraging cases by focusing on the good outcomes. For some patients, particularly those living on the streets with drug or alcohol addictions, those success stories are years in the making.
One outreach patient, an alcoholic living in one of the city’s homeless camps, spent years accepting sporadic treatment before finally committing to an alcohol rehab facility. He has been off the streets and sober for the past year. Providing a “stable voice” in his life eventually resulted in a positive outcome, says Brady. “It took a long time, but I believe that we truly made that difference.”
Brady seeks a “special kind of person” when hiring staff; their kind, personal interactions draw patients into the Mount Carmel Outreach Mobile Coach’s care network.
Brady cuts through red tape by forging relationships with social service providers. A strong relationship means she can get agency decision makers on the phone in a crucial time of need for mobile outreach patients. Brady and staff have working relationships with recovery living facilities like Miles House, the Community Shelter Board and Maryhaven. They work with the Veterans’ Administration to find housing and treatment for homeless vets suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Seeing a need for stronger mental health treatment at outreach locations, Brady led an effort to integrate mental health services into Outreach Mobile Coach clinics. In 2010, the Mount Carmel Foundation began funding on-site treatment from Southeast Inc., a nonprofit mental health services provider for the underserved in Franklin County. A Southeast Inc. nurse, nurse practitioner and caseworker are on-site at three mobile coach clinics weekly. The partnership facilitated over 900 mental health interventions in 2013.
Brady’s most recent addition to the mobile outreach program has been the Homeless Healthcare Alliance, which brings 10 community support agencies to the Holy Family Soup Kitchen every Thursday morning to provide all of the program’s services to the city’s homeless.
“Not only do we want to be able to reduce the (number of) people who fall through the gaps, we want to reduce the duplication of services,” says Brady.
Partnerships eliminate the barriers even further by turning the mobile outreach clinics into one-stop shops. This complements Brady’s holistic vision for the outreach programs to be unified sources of medical care, mental health, spiritual and social support.
Participants: Mount Carmel employees, dependents, students and volunteers
Mission: Provide multiple initiatives to improve physical, mental, spiritual and financial health across the health system’s four hospitals, medical and educational facilities, corporate headquarters and physician offices.
Medical professionals are often so involved with taking care of others they neglect to do the same for themselves. The human resources team at Mount Carmel Health System has developed a branded, comprehensive associate wellness program to keep employees, their dependents, volunteers and students living healthy.
Mount Carmel has always put an emphasis on employee wellness, but the program took stronger shape five years ago, says Tara Howard, total rewards manager in the health system’s human resources department. That was when the program turned from self-reported employee surveys to analyzing health plan data to see what conditions were causing the most harm among the workforce.
Aggregated data allowed the HR department to see what their claims and risks were. “We couldn’t really manage our plan the way we wanted to because we had all these underlying conditions we needed to treat. People didn’t really know how to take care of themselves,” says Howard.
Diabetes and heart maladies related to weight and lack of activity were the first conditions they addressed. The HR team developed the Live Your Whole Life rewards-based program to incentivize employees to take biometric screenings, engage in group physical activities, eat healthier and educate themselves about their own health risks.
“One of the keys of the success of this program is that it’s fresh. It’s always fresh, it’s always exciting,” says Christine Browning, who oversees the program as senior vice president of human resources. Her staff finds it a fun challenge to develop new activities and programming for wellness users.
“We find ourselves having to reel ourselves in,” Browning laughs. It’s easy, she says, to become absorbed in the wellness project as employee engagement builds. She hopes one day to have a dedicated program manager.
The participation of senior leadership was crucial to the program’s early success. The participation of the c-suite helped Browning and Howard integrate the program within operations in Mount Carmel’s corporate headquarters, four hospitals, medical facilities and 130 physician practices. Shift employees can participate in the program as easily as 9-to-5ers.
Twenty-three percent of Mount Carmel employees take part in the program. The team’s goal is to reach 25 percent participation by this July.
The HR staff worked with Mount Carmel’s Information Resources department to build their own wellness program web portal for easy employee access and engagement. The portal allows employees to register for screenings and lectures, take part in group challenges, track their own accomplishments and earn points.
The web portal is a good way to sneak in little educational nuggets while employees are tracking their activities. For example, Howard says people earn points for having two dental checkups a year; they also learn that regular dental checkups are a good way to screen for oral cancers.
The Mount Carmel corporate campus has a cardio room and a weight room. Many employees get a quick workout in before or after work, says Browning. Weight Watchers hosts lunch sessions on Mount Carmel’s campuses. Employees on the medical plan can earn reimbursement for such participation.
In a recent weight management pilot program, 30 participants lost 924.6 pounds and reduced their overall Body Mass Index (BMI) 10 percent. The group discontinued a total of 35 medications and reduced the dosage in nine cases. The total prescription cost savings to the employee health plan totaled $2,634 per month. Participants recorded an average 10 percent reduction in blood pressure and sugar levels, and an average 12 percent reduction in total cholesterol.
Mount Carmel physicians and surgeons volunteer their time to give lectures to wellness program participants. A bariatric surgeon recently discussed healthy weight loss and bariatric treatment options with employees. The Mount Carmel orthopedic group partnered on a back pain project.
“We’re lucky because our physician network works closely with us,” says Howard. She and Browning are humbled by instances in which wellness screenings have led to early detection of life-threatening conditions.
One man called the HR department to thank them for hosting annual screenings—an 85 percent blockage of his carotid artery was detected and he was able to have immediate surgery to prevent a stroke.
Employees who see life-saving or life-changing results often volunteer their time as program ambassadors. They help out at events and “carry the message forward” to other employees, says Browning. “It’s really exciting to see that kind of contagious excitement that is being generated.”
Mount Carmel’s Wellness Program has caught on at the corporate level. CHE Trinity Health, Mount Carmel’s parent company, has adopted the Live Your Whole Life initiative as its national wellness program for all of its employees. Trinity’s 82 health systems in 21 states have rebranded their internal wellness programs to the model pioneered at Mount Carmel.
Live Your Whole Life has its own logo, which appears on vending machines and food items that meet the program’s “healthy” criteria. The HR wellness committee worked with Mount Carmel’s communications and marketing team to develop and implement the logo. It’s a helpful prompt for employees as they try to make healthy choices throughout their workday, says Howard.
The branding campaign is one of the ways in which the wellness program has become more complex since its founding. Not only does it address physical health, it provides learning resources for mental, spiritual and financial counseling as well.
“All those things come into play when you’re at the bedside and giving your full attention to a patient,” says Browning. She and the HR team are focused on providing results for their employees, though there might come a day when they export the program to corporate partners. The ability to demonstrate measurable improvements increases as the program grows at Mount Carmel.
“Everything we do here will become part of our business case, and the ability to replicate it will be key,” Browning says.
Volunteering Since: 2009
Volunteer Involvement: Co-chairs of Mount Carmel Foundation’s capital campaign to expand Mount Carmel St. Ann’s; David is secretary of the Mount Carmel College of Nursing Executive Board and a member of the college’s executive, mission and strategic planning committees; Michele is a member of the Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Women’s Auxiliary Council
Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Project Grace Expansion Completed: January 2014
Capital campaign: $5 million
Bianconis' contribution: Provided the lead gift to fund the expansion; hosted fundraisers for the capital campaign; commissioned the “Grace” statue, the centerpiece of the new main entrance to Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital
The statue of St. Ann that greets patients as they enter the expanded Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital was inspired by a pilgrimage to Israel undertaken by two Mount Carmel patrons.
David and Michele Bianconi, whose donation funded the statue as part of their lead gift to Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Project Grace expansion capital campaign, were visiting the church of St. Anne in Jerusalem when they saw the statue that inspired Mount Carmel’s newly unveiled “Grace” statue.
“We walked into the church, and to our left was a beautiful statue of St. Ann comforting her daughter, Mary. The moment we saw that we thought, “This has got to be divine intervention, or whatever you might call it,” says David Bianconi. He snapped a photo with his iPhone and sent it back to Mount Carmel. David says everyone “simply fell in love with it.”
Nina Menduni, the artist commissioned for the statue, had previously provided the Bianconis with several “excellent” renditions, says David. None inspired the couple like their timely sighting in the Holy Land.
The husband and wife say it was rewarding to see the capital campaign they co-chair come to fruition as “Grace” was unveiled during the hospital’s October 2013 gala celebrating the grand opening the St. Ann’s expansion.
Working together as volunteers at Mount Carmel is very rewarding activity to share as a couple, says Michele. “It’s exciting that it was something that we both shared a passion for,” she says. “When you’re going into the hospital, it’s stressful to begin with,” says Michele, adding that St. Ann’s staff and facilities provide comfort and quality care to patients during times of hardship.
Many Mount Carmel volunteers will relate to the origins of the Bianconis’ involvement. They were first called to contribute to the faith-based hospital system by Ann Schiele, president and dean of the Mount Carmel College of Nursing. Schiele came to know the couple while one of their four children was earning his RN degree from the school.
Four years ago, Schiele invited David to join the board of the Mount Carmel College of Nursing. In her HealthCare Achievement Award nomination letter, Schiele praised David as an active board member with a personal ethic in keeping with the mission and strategic plan of the nursing college and the health system overall.
“His compassionate, ethical integrity and high standards have enabled him to be a leader in his community,” wrote Schiele in her nomination letter. She went on to add that, through his willingness to serve others and financial support, “he has positively impacted both Mount Carmel St. Ann’s and Mount Carmel College of Nursing.”
David holds the secretary position on the Mount Carmel College of Nursing Executive Board and serves as a member of the executive, mission and strategic planning committees. Those appointments capitalize on his experience founding his own healthcare services company in the late 1980s.
David graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in accounting. He worked for two firms before striking out on his own to found Progressive Medical, a national service provider for injured workers with worker’s compensation claims.
Bianconi sold his business in 2010. Around the same time, he and Michele purchased Westerville’s struggling Hoover Grill and an adjacent gardening center. They rechristened the Hoover Reservoir waterfront restaurant Bel Lago.
“That’s keeping us involved in the business aspect of our lives, along with other charitable things we are able to do,” says David.
Michele Bianconi’s passion for childhood development led to her role on the Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Women’s Auxiliary Council. “I was excited right when I first heard about their services, and what they provide to mothers of newborn babies, which is a passion of ours,” says Michele. “I hope to become more involved in it.”
The mother of four was deeply involved with her children’s education as a full-time mom. She holds an associate degree in early childhood development from Columbus State Community College. The family lives in Westerville and belongs to St. Paul the Apostle Parish in their hometown.
Michele opened the couple’s home to host a reception for community leaders and potential donors early on in the capital campaign. Janet Meeks, president and chief operating officer for Mount Carmel St. Ann’s, approached the couple to discuss what the capital campaign would mean for the hospital and the community of Westerville.
“We really liked the vision that she laid out. It was something that was appealing to us for several reasons,” says David. The couple say it is “very appealing” to them to support a faith-based hospital that adds to the wellbeing of their community.
In addition to their contributions, the Bianconis are humble and inspiring in their service, wrote Meeks in her nomination letter. Their contributions have provided a “lesson in generosity that inspired our entire leadership team of colleagues and volunteers to exceed all expectations.”