August 2004

Cindy Schamp Moving Alle-Kiski Medical Center Forward

by John Fries

What is a small town Iowa native doing in Western Pennsylvania? If you ask Cindy Schamp, sheÕll say, "loving every minute of it."

Since May of last year, Schamp has been serving as president and CEO of Alle-Kiski Medical Center, located in the Allegheny Valley.

On one hand, sheÕs proud to be part of the West Penn Allegheny Health System, one of the two major hospital networks in the region. On the other hand, she really enjoys the small town environment and flavor her facility provides.

ItÕs a nice change from her previous life. After earning a degree in gerontology and business, then spending nine years at a hospital in Oregon, she found herself back in the midwest--in Boise, Idaho--and in her fifth year as COO of a tertiary facility.

"It was a great place to work," said Schamp," but the hospital had committed to a $140 million facility expansion project, and my job began to evolve from operations--which I prefer--to building."

Fortunately, through the support of her CEO and a connection with a recruiter, an opportunity surfaced in western Pennsylvania. Schamp explored it, liked what she saw and heard, and said yes. She and her family relocated to Lower Burrell last spring.

She quickly assimilated. She has also noticed a few contrasts. "For one, the healthcare environment is different here than in west," said Schamp. For example, as the west continues to grow, new facilities are continually being built to meet the demand. Here in western Pennsylvania, the facilities tend to be older. Also," she noted, "this region has one major insurance carrier, which is different than youÕd find in other states."

A year or so prior to SchampÕs arrival at Alle-Kiski, a national consulting company studied the hospital and made some operational recommendations, some of which were implemented. Then, once she was on board as CEO, she began to establish priorities for the months and years that would follow.

"I wanted to ensure a broad base of support," she said, "so I met early on with the hospital and medical staff leadership to discuss the challenges that lay ahead. We have a superior management team, and they told me about some of the financial challenges that existed in the recent past. Then, we made a commitment to move forward.

"I view myself as a firestarter," said Schamp. "I like to try different things and bring out new ideas. My goal is to make the hospital viable for the long term."

She said the executive staff is working in a very collaborative manner, and that she credits them with moving the plans forward. She has high praise for the medical staff, as well, and is quick to note the quality of medical expertise in the region.

"The clinicians here are excellent, and theyÕre very loyal," she said, adding that, "the current malpractice crisis is a shame. Because of rising premiums, many great physicians are now forced to make major lifestyle decisions, including whether theyÕre going to practice here or move out-of-state,"

She also speaks very highly of the employees at Alle-Kiski. "The people here are wonderful, and the employees at the hospital are extremely dedicated, loyal and stable," she said. "In the west, people are much more transient. Here, theyÕre strongly committed to the region, and they have similar values to those I grew up with in a small town in Iowa. TheyÕre very family-oriented, compassionate and helpful with directions and navigation."

According to Schamp, thereÕs good reason to credit her team. "To move from a negative operating margin in fiscal year 2003 to a $6 million net margin swing in fiscal year 2004 takes a tremendous amount of work and gets us to a future that becomes much more promising."

Schamp is glad to be part of one of the West Penn Allegheny Health System. "I appreciate the systemÕs vision," she said. "TheyÕre strongly committed to doing the right things for patients, and they continually measure satisfaction, quality and service. I love my job, and I would stack Alle-Kiski Medical Center against any other hospital out there."

When sheÕs not working, Schamp enjoys spending time with her husband Rick, their eight-year-old son Michael and four-year-old daughter Myleigh. Their favorite activities include walking, playing basketball, riding bikes and watching movies together. They also like to explore new places, like Ohiopyle and Seven Springs.

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