Last Tuesday it was announced that current CEO of Cayuga Medical Center (CMC), John Rudd, will be retiring in the fall of 2019. In the same release, it was announced that Dr. Martin Stallone, vice president of physician operations at CMC and president of Cayuga Medical Associates, will be succeeding Rudd starting Jan. 1, 2019. The transition will be final in the fall of 2019 when Stallone will officially take over the duties of CEO of Cayuga Health Systems. “Retiring from an organization like Cayuga Health System is not an easy decision. I will miss working with our dedicated employees, physicians, volunteers, board of directors, and community partners to advance health care services throughout the region,” said Rudd in the release.
CMCs new CEO, Stallone, attended Cornell University for his Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular and Cell Biology. Following his undergrad, he attended the University of Pennsylvania for his M.D. where he also did his internship and residency. Stallone also holds a Masters of Business
Administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been a member of the military for 20 years. He is an Air Force flight surgeon and continues to be an active member of the New York National Guard. Outside of the office, Stallone said his family, a wife and six sons, are his life.
Stallone returned to the area in 2009 after looking into opportunities in the area.
“I happened to ask for information from the hospital in Tompkins County and I was pleasantly delighted that it was far and away the most progressive and rewarding offer and arrangement and so I took them up on it and so I came in 2009 back to Tompkins County,” he said.
Stallone was drawn to medicine as a profession not only because it satisfied his interests in the sciences, but was also an opportunity to help people. Within medicine, there were a variety of different paths that he could follow. The opportunity to do so many different things was exciting. He decided to pursue a path to administration within health care in order to help more people.
“I saw that there were systems that needed physicians being involved,” he said. “There were systematic improvements that were plainly evident that required the health care providers to be involved in being part of a solution. So, I noticed when I was a medical student in a hospital setting that there were a lot of opportunities and indeed requirements that the provider be part of finding better ways, in simple terms. So, I fell in love with the concept of helping many more people than you could help directly as a provider.”
But, Stallone isn’t ready to give up being a provider just yet. He intends to continue being clinically active in the hospital as CEO. The benefits of administration, he said, reach beyond the patients a doctor can directly care for.
Since moving into administration Stallone said a position like this is something that he was hoping, even dreaming, for. But he never expected it this quickly.
“I didn’t expect in my early 40s to have this kind of an opportunity which is why I’m humbled by it and I take it extremely seriously and it’s something that I’m going to give my all to make sure that this is a successful organization, as it’s been in the past,” he said. “But I always wanted to have the opportunity to leave a mark on an organization like Cayuga, especially an esteemed one like Cayuga Health Systems.”
Looking to the future, Stallone sees an opportunity for growth for CMC in the community, through collaboration with other organizations and a strengthening of current, and future, relationships. He doesn’t necessarily see the growth in the amount of healthcare provided. Through collaboration it’s possible to reduce redundancy and duplication in the healthcare system, making it more efficient. He sees this as growth of “our maturity and sophistication.”
CMC, like many service-oriented organizations, is chasing a horizon when it comes to improvement. But this chase means “Cayuga needs to push the frontiers of safety and quality and cost-effectiveness,” Stallone said. Recently the CMC network, Cayuga Area Preferred, was simultaneously named the lowest total cost to Medicare beneficiaries in New York State among 33 other healthcare organizations and ranked the highest quality. Stallone wants to see this type of accomplishment in other populations and areas of the CM health care system. One of the challenges that CMC faces, he said, is staffing.
“I think we could really stand to have at least a dozen more primary care physicians extending our model,” he said. “It’s not that we have a shortcoming in our model. It’s that we’re not providing it to enough patients. This is a little bit nuanced, but this is important to understand about health care, is the more Cayuga patients we have the lower cost their care is going to be.”
His connection to Cornell helped Stallone come back to the area, but it’s not the same for other new physicians. Ithaca may not be as well known outside of the circle of alums from the nearby colleges. But, as the CMC network continues to see success and recognition Stallone is confident that recruiting will be successful too.
While Stallone only had good things to say about the team and staff that he works with and that make up the CMC network, he would like to see a re-emphasis on all levels of patient-centeredness. With this re-emphasis, he believes that the consumerism in medicine will be in CMC’s favor.
“I think we need to be good enough that patients choose us amidst other options. That’s how you know you’re doing a good job when they have a choice and they choose you,” he said. “And that goes to having involved and satisfied physicians and staff, which is part of it.”
Creating and running a hospital that he would want for himself and his loved ones is on his mind every day, Stallone said. But the job will come with challenges. As a provider, he was directly involved with every aspect of a patient’s care. That kind of management isn’t always helpful when working with a team or as an administrator.
“The temptation would be to get too involved or too controlling and I understand, although it’s a challenge to delegate and let the experts on my team do their job,” he said. “So, I see myself as an enabler. Physicians come from controlling every aspect of a patients care, and as an administrator I know that I need to delegate and realize that there are parts of this job that I can’t do directly and I need to be more of a cheerleader, a coach, an enabler, a consultant, and not directly controlling the outcome and the output.”
Rudd, Stallone’s predecessor, said he is very pleased with the board’s decision for the incoming CEO.
“He is well prepared to guide our entire organization forward and continue the focus on our mission of improving the health of our communities by delivering the highest quality of health care in a safe, compassionate, and sustainable manner, one person at a time,” Rudd said in the release.
Recommended for you