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"The only way to understand patients is to become involved in their community."

 

Victor A. Broccolino

Born: August 6, 1942

Education: University of Baltimore, B.S.; Loyola College, M.B.A.

Career Highlights: Controller, Franklin Square Hospital; CEO, Bon Secours Hospital.

Current Position: President and CEO, Howard County General Hospital.

Community Boards: United Way, Maryland State Emergency Medical Services (vice chair), Superintendent’s Advisory Council for Educational Partnerships, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Maryland, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Howard County Center of African American Culture, American Heart Association, Howard County Economic Development Authority.

Family: Married for 40 years to Tina. Four children: Lisa, Anita, Victor, Dino. Five grandchildren: Thomas, Elam, Dino, Maria Elise, Cecelia Grace.

Hobbies: Friends and family, especially grandchildren. Collects coins, stamps, hats, pins, flashlights.

 

 

Vic Broccolino: Melding a Hospital with Its Community

It’s New Year’s Day at the Double-T Diner on Rt. 40, and Howard County General Hospital’s CEO Vic Broccolino is having brunch with his family before he heads back to his beloved home away from home: Howard County General Hospital. Suddenly he spots one of his nurses eating with friends. He wishes her a happy new year. Soon enough, she’s reciting a string of nouns: “innovation, collaboration, unsurpassed service...” It’s the hospital’s mission statement!

Her recitation wouldn’t surprise anyone who has attended orientation at HCGH in the past several years. They all know that if, after six months of working at the hospital, you can repeat the mission statement verbatim, Broccolino will make good on the promise he makes at every orientation: he’ll give you a $25 gift certificate to a Howard County restaurant. There’s just one catch. You’ve got to recite it to him outside the hospital in the Howard County community, preferably while performing community service.

That’s just one way Broccolino propels his employees into community activism, a key ingredient of his service as CEO ever since his arrival at the 200-bed hospital in 1990. Thanks in part to Broccolino, the reach of Johns Hopkins Medicine into its surrounding neighborhoods now extends far beyond East Baltimore. In Broccolino’s view, setting high standards for patient care in the hospital isn’t enough. “The only way to understand patients is to become involved in their community.”

Broccolino, 62, dons a corporate suit with an American flag lapel pin. But don’t let the polished good looks and savvy CEO talk fool you. Chat with him for five minutes and you’ll hear him gush about his grandchildren, about how he wishes he could spend more time in Howard County schools, reading to kids.

Born and raised in the shadow of Hopkins, on Monument Street in East Baltimore, Broccolino is acutely aware of what drives a community. His Italian immigrant parents had a strong work ethic; his father was a businessman, his mother a seamstress. They went to church regularly and enjoyed a close relationship with friends from diverse backgrounds in their modest rowhouse neighborhood.

The oldest of three boys, Broccolino spoke mostly Italian until he was 5. Surprisingly, the now gregarious executive was painfully shy as a youngster. Maybe it’s because his parents made him perform operas for every visitor: “I used to hide under the table!” But eventually he came out of his shell and took to heart his mother’s oft-repeated philosophy: “You get back what you give.”

Early on, Broccolino built a career in the savings and loan industry, then rerouted his business acumen toward health care. He was controller at Franklin Square Hospital and at Bon Secours where he eventually became CEO. His 20 years’ experience at the two Baltimore hospitals showed him how a hospital commands respect in the community it serves.

Since his arrival at HCGH in 1990, the hospital has turned a profit every year. Today, it offers a broader range of services than any other non-teaching community hospital in the state. It has inpatient and outpatient obstetrics, pediatrics (including an ICU for newborns), and psychiatry. In FY ‘03, admissions increased by 1,200. That year, notes Broccolino like a proud father, was also the biggest for babies: 3,333 deliveries in all. The hospital is ranked fifth in obstetrics in Maryland. With its new emergency department, it now has more ER visits per bed than any hospital with 200 or more licensed beds in the state.

The 1998 merger likely would not have occurred had Broccolino not suggested in 1992 that the hospital would probably need to merge within the decade. Fearing that HCGH was too small to compete in the long term, he convinced the board of trustees to look for a strategic partner while HCGH was performing well, rather than later on, when it could be in a less desirable position. In all, there were 15 prospects, including other hospitals, a nursing home chain, even a hospitality chain. “In the end we wanted a partner with staying power and an excellent reputation.” Broccolino says they found both in Hopkins.

He attributes much of HCGH’s growth in the past five years to the affiliation. Hopkins’ 24/7 referring physician backup, specialty care, increased security through Broadway Services, shared contracts with outside vendors, financial assistance with such projects as the new ED are among the advantages he cites. But the icing on the cake is the fact that Hopkins, like HCGH, fosters community building through its programs in East Baltimore. And although the inner city bears little resemblance to Columbia’s planned suburbia, Broccolino says both require a hospital’s attention.

“Vic’s regard for people permeates every level of this hospital and the community,” says Gary Milles, Howard County internist and HCGH staff physician. Milles is also medical director of The Health Alliance, a free clinic for patients who have little or no insurance that is located around the corner from the hospital. He recalls that when Broccolino first visited, “he went from floor to floor, handing out food and sandwiches to the clinic patients who had to be admitted.”

The Health Alliance, which depends on HCGH for financial support and hospital beds, is one of nearly 100 charities HCGH supports. The list runs the gamut from Girl Scouts to diabetes and cancer associations, to historical societies and religious organizations. With close to 20 partnerships with Howard County schools, HCGH provides mentoring opportunities and sends employees into classrooms. It sponsors career days and vocational internships and writes checks to all the high schools every June for “chemical-free” graduation parties. Most significantly, Broccolino requires all his managers to volunteer in the community (see sidebar). More than 40 not only volunteer, but also serve on boards and advisory councils.

With it all, Broccolino never allows himself or his employees to become complacent: “We don’t do anything ‘the best.’ In orientation, I tell people we can always do better.” And as Broccolino leads with this self-effacing perfectionism, he never loses sight of his humble beginnings right off of Monument Street.

—Judy Minkov

At HCGH, Volunteering Is a Must


Dorthy Brilliantes and student Mia White.
Eight years ago, Vic Broccolino made community service a requirement for managers at Howard County General Hospital. They must be active in at least one Howard County organization or donate a minimum of 80 hours a year to the community. Today, his 66 managers participate in more than 100 community organizations or programs.

“It’s almost impossible to look at the hospital and community separately. We are the community, especially because 67 percent of our employees live in this area,” says Dorothy Brilliantes, senior VP for human resources. Brilliantes spent 13 years at Hopkins Hospital and volunteered at nearby Dunbar High, introducing students to health care careers.

Since coming to HCGH 10 years ago, Brilliantes has taken up a similar charge, launching “Passport to the Future,” a career exploration program for Howard County schools. The program places kids in internships, provides mentors and assists with resume preparation. Brilliantes and her colleagues speak in the schools about the rewards of a health care career.

For Brilliantes, the rewards are great. Raising a teenager herself, she knows how desperately kids need direction and feels an obligation to inspire others about jobs in health care. Does she ever resent the community service requirement? “On the contrary,” she says. “I don’t want to be in a job where it isn’t an expectation.”

 

 

 

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