Ron Violi

SOME PEOPLE are critical when a business or organization brings in a so-called “outsider” to be in charge. They have a problem with someone from outside our region running the show.

At times, that argument has merit. But when it comes to health care your health care an outsider can be exactly what the doctor ordered. Case in point: Ron Violi.

Violi is a Pittsburgher. He bleeds Black and Gold. But it’s his experience in the Steel City that enabled health care to excel in the Wheeling area. And who benefits? We do.

Violi was recruited by Bishop Michael J. Bransfield to come to Wheeling Hospital and serve as its chief executive officer in 2006. During the seven years before his arrival, the hospital lost about $60 million. Within six months with Violi at the helm, the hospital was profitable and its growth took flight that continues today. And, it hasn’t operated in the red.

Violi’s health care know-how was honed on two fronts. First, he founded the Appliance Store chain that grew to 58 stores in five states. He’s a smart businessman. Next, Violi took his retail business skills and applied it to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Children’s was also faltering financially and Violi was asked to step in as chief executive and undertake a financial turnaround of the hospital, which he did.

When he arrived in Wheeling, one of the first things Violi noticed was certain specialty care was lacking, or in some cases nonexistent, especially when it came to kids. After righting the ship financially, he set out on an aggressive agenda to attract more and new specialists to the hospital for patients of all ages. But one thing that makes him most proud is that families no longer have to leave the area for certain types of specialty care.

Violi created the Center for Pediatrics at the hospital and added a rehabilitation complex where children receive autism treatment and therapy for speech, occupational and physical issues. He attracted a pediatric endocrinologist to address diabetes, along with a pediatric psychiatrist and a pediatric surgeon. Violi convinced Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh to open an office at Wheeling Hospital where other specialists could help kids.

Aside from pediatrics, Violi has recruited physicians and other specialists to take better care of our local residents. He also spearheaded the recent construction of the new medical Tower 5.

Under Violi’s watch, the hospital continues to build on its long list of accreditations, certifications and awards. Its cardiac care program has five separate elite national rankings. For the fourth consecutive year, it recently won the National Consumer Research Corp.’s Consumer Choice Award. CareChex, a national health care rating service, ranked Wheeling Hospital among the best in the nation in several categories and the best in its market in nearly 20.

Pittsburgh is known nationally for its health care system. So it’s even more special that an independent panel of judges recently voted Violi the Pittsburgh Business Times Executive Health Care Hero of the year for his leadership and success at Wheeling Hospital. It was the first time a Wheeling-area health care professional was a finalist for the honor.

Violi deflects the kudos, crediting the doctors, nurses and other staff for the hospital’s success. He has always maintained it takes a team effort, combined with true dedication and compassion for patients, to make the hospital successful.

An outsider? To some, perhaps. To others, who cares? What’s more important; where a person is from, or how that person has bettered the lives of our area families?