CEO of the Year: Large Nonprofit

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Upon joining OhioHealth nearly 29 years ago, David Blom was given an unusual and challenging assignment: run a small hospital in Millersburg under Riverside Methodist Hospital's first outside management contract. "I was hired to rebuild the relationship between the hospital and the Amish," who made up about half the patient population, says Blom.

Blom met with members of the Amish community every other Thursday for a year to discuss their needs. What he learned "is we're really here to serve the community, that's our job. And communities vary. You've got the rich. You've got the poor. You've got the Amish. You've got people that don't speak English--we have a huge Somali population here, you've got a Japanese population in Dublin. So while we're a big system, each of our hospitals has a role in serving their own community," he says.

In the 2.5 years he spent in Millersburg, Blom had a hitching post installed on the premises and also--in response to a pair of late-night births in the parking lot--changed the definition of a "day" for billing purposes to a rolling 24-hour period. The change was made to better serve the uninsured Amish. By the time Blom left, the hospital was busier and more profitable than when he arrived.

In the years since, Blom has moved steadily up the ranks at not-for-profit OhioHealth, serving as president of three of its Central Ohio hospitals--Doctors Hospital, Grant Medical Center and Riverside Methodist Hospital--while also serving as executive vice president and chief operating officer of OhioHealth. Blom was promoted to OhioHealth president and CEO in 2002, after the system posted three straight years of operating losses.

Blom, 57, helped turn the tide, shoring up the financials (including closing the struggling Doctors North after a conversion to an outpatient center) and overseeing a substantial expansion, with the addition of Dublin Methodist Hospital, a sizable Westerville Medical Campus and other medical office and hospital expansion projects.

Today, OhioHealth has 18 hospitals, 23 health and surgery centers and 22,000 associates, physicians and volunteers. Annual revenue is more than $2.4 billion, and more than 1.9 million outpatient visits occur annually.

Blom declines to take all the credit for the system's success. A good CEO "has the ability to get things done through other people, and I don't know how to get that done without being a servant-leader," he says. Blom sits on the board of Voluntary Hospitals of America and is treasurer of the Columbus Downtown Development Corp.

OhioHealth has been named one of the best health-care systems in America by Thomson Reuters three years in a row. For the last five years, it has been ranked one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" by Fortune magazine. Blom says he's proud of what such recognition means. A decade ago, OhioHealth put in place a vision statement, says Blom. "It goes like this: We want to be a place where people want to work, physicians want to practice and where patients want to go to receive health care."

So far, it seems, so good.

Reprinted from the December 2011 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.