Editor's Notes: Von Zychlin's Mount Carmel career reflects a healthier relationship between competing systems

Mary Yost
Claus von Zychlin

One definition of perspective: the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance. -Merriam-Webster

Our March issue-featuring Columbus CEO's annual Healthcare Achievement Awards-is one of my favorites because of the perspective I can offer. The first issue I edited when I joined the magazine in 2014 presented the healthcare awards as well as a feature on local hospital construction. Having spent the previous 20 years handling communications and public affairs for the Ohio Hospital Association, this was my sweet spot. I knew this stuff, even if I was just learning the magazine business.

The understanding I can apply to our healthcare-related stories also came into play recently in covering the sudden announcement by Claus von Zychlin that he was stepping down from the helm at Mount Carmel Health System, a position he had held for 10 years. My connection with him surpasses that of other local journalists. Before he came to Columbus, I knew von Zychlin as executive vice president and COO of TriHealth, a Catholic health system in Cincinnati.

Most media reports have focused-understandably-on von Zychlin's battle with the blood cancer multiple myeloma as prompting his decision to want to spend more time with family.

All indications are he is winning his health fight, but a three-month leave he took for intensive treatment reset his personal perspective. With aging parents and in-laws living out of state, he and his wife opted to put family ahead of professional goals for the next six months to a year. He says it will also allow him to discern "what I want to do going forward."

What struck me as he announced his decision to immediately step down as Mount Carmel CEO were his reflections about how his early days there molded his leadership of the innovative hospital system.

Mount Carmel and Fairfield Medical Center were each eyeing expansion along the Rt. 33 corridor-fertile territory lying between their service areas-as von Zychlin arrived in Columbus. "I was meeting with Mina Ubbing (then CEO of the Lancaster-based FMC) down in Fairfield and we were about ready to sue each other with what was going on at Diley Ridge," von Zychlin recalls of the Canal Winchester medical facility's planning stage. He adds, "That was one of the great moments … Instead of us fighting each other, we were able to come together and form a partnership that has been very, very successful both from a healthcare point of view, from a community point of view and certainly for both organizations."

Indeed, I had seen von Zychlin huddle with Ubbing at OHA board gatherings, presumably working out details to open the jointly owned freestanding ER and medical office building in 2010. Diley Ridge Medical Center later added 10 inpatient beds and is the blueprint for plans Mount Carmel recently announced to build additional freestanding ERs in partnership with a Texas company, Adeptus Health Inc.

"That really set the tone for my thought process about how do we build a network that is not about what I do but what can we do as an organization by ourselves and as a community organization working with other community organizations to create a network that ultimately will steward the community's dollars but also be inclusive … How do we create a community network that ultimately serves the patients in a better way? That's the theme I've operated on since that first interaction with Fairfield," von Zychlin recalls.

He is far from finished. Turning hospitals from reactive healers into proactive health promoters remains a passion as von Zychlin consultsfor Mount Carmel and parent Trinity Health. Godspeed, Claus!

Another career in transition has brought a freelance writerto Columbus CEO. This month we welcome Brian Ball, a veteran business journalist with more than 20 years' experience covering local real estate and economic development. His first development spotlight appears this month. Welcome, Brian!