Avita’s President and CEO, Jerry Morasko, was a guest on WMAN podcast, CEOs You Should Know. Jerry discussed his background, Avita Ontario Hospital, and what he likes to do outside of work.
WMAN: The CEO you should know. Today our guest is Jerry Morasko, President and CEO of Avita Health System. Jerry welcome to the studio.
Jerry: Thank you.
WMAN: Great to have you here. We are meeting for the first time, maybe some of the listeners don’t know much about you. What about your education, and where are you from, originally.
Jerry: I was born and raised in Montana. I graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in accounting and finance. Then I went and got a master’s degree in Health Administration through Montana State University.
WMAN: So what brought you to Ohio?
Jerry: Well I started my career in public accounting. Then I took a job as the Chief Financial Officer of a small hospital. I did that for about 6 years. Then I was recruited by another hospital that was having some trouble. I was the CEO of that hospital for about 11 years, was successful. Then, there are headhunters out in the industry, and one of them recruited me to Michigan. So I went up to upper Michigan and ran the Bell Hospital in Ipsheming, Michigan right outside of Marquette. Then I was recruited by a recruiter down to Ohio and I was recruited by the board in Galion.
WMAN: Boy did things change in a hurry with the idea to take out the old Lazarus and put in a hospital in there, at Richland Mall. Why don’t you bring everyone up to speed on how that idea came to be?
Jerry: Well originally, Bucyrus Hospital merged with Galion, so that created the health system. Through strategic planning, working with the board and physicians, we felt there was an opening in the market in Ontario. A lot of patients were coming over to Galion, for services and people were asking us to go into that market. We felt it was a good place to fill a need in the market. Our team was looking at locations, and the Lazarus building was empty. We looked at it, it had a great parking area, and it even looked like a hospital grade facility. It was all concrete. We had some architects look at it and they confirmed it was. That’s how we ended up going there. It was the best location for us, it was easy to get into, and it was something we could reuse.
WMAN: So Jerry, what is all in there?
Jerry: It’s a full service hospital. We still send out tertiary stuff and we always will like brain surgery, open heart, transplants. Most of the stuff you need, Emergency Room, Surgery Unit, all of those types of things are done at Avita Ontario Hospital. We have Critical Care, Pulmonologist on call and, nephrology. We have a full array of hospital services so you can get your hospital care there, as well as your outpatient care. All of the ancillary services are there as well.
WMAN: Aside from the obvious, having a hospital connected to a mall, what makes Avita in Ontario unique?
Jerry: Well what I think is unique about it is, it’s a new hospital and that is unusual. It’s in a good convenient location that provides access for everybody. Of course, it’s unique being attached to the mall. We have the biggest gift shop of probably any hospital in the country.
WMAN: Yes, Avita is the only hospital in the region that has a local governing board. That means all of our board members live in our community, unlike the other health systems in Cleveland or Columbus. People that live here know what services lines they want, what services they want to retain, and the board that I work for actually has the authority to set the budget, determines the strategic direction of the hospital, and what service lines we are going to provide to the community. It’s very important to have local input on that.
WMAN: Over the several facilities you have now that make up Avita Health System, how many people, doctors, nurses, do you have working for you now?
Jerry: We have over 1,800 employees now. We are in over thirty locations across Richland, Crawford, and even Marion County. Avita has over 130 employed physicians and APPs which is the largest medical staff in the region. We have multi-specialized medical staff from primary care, all the way to sub-specialty services such as bariatric surgery, those types of things.
WMAN: Are there jobs open?
Jerry: We always have jobs open. If you look at our website, we are always looking for employees. We are looking for surgical staff, we are looking for nurses. We always have positions open. Even physicians are a group we are looking for.
WMAN: How many buildings are we talking about?
Jerry: We have 30 facilities. The three hospitals, one is Ontario, one is Galion, and one is Bucyrus. Our clinics are spread out all over the place from New Washington, Crestline, Marion, Galion, and Bucyrus. In Bellville, we just opened a new clinic. We have clinics all over for easy access for patients.
WMAN: Tell us about your leadership style and in-turn, how you manage 1,800 people.
Jerry: I believe in assertiveness. I think that is the best leadership style, and that’s what I use. Eventually, everybody in some way, shape, or form, reports to me in the organization. In might be through a manager, director, VP and then it comes to me. Those are the layers we have but everything comes up to me. I have an executive team that I work with and each one of them covers an area in our system.
WMAN: Tell us about your family, maybe some things you do for fun in the community.
Jerry: I have a wife, and a little girl. The things that I like to do, I still ride a motorcycle. I like to golf. Being from Montana, I used to hunt but I don’t really hunt here. It’s a different type of hunting so I don’t do that anymore. I’m more into the golf to get my outdoor activities.
WMAN: Then I’m sure you’re looking forward to spring like the rest of us!
Jerry: Oh yeah!
WMAN: Well thank you so much for coming in today. We really appreciate it. Jerry Morasko the CEO you should know from Avita Health System.
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