Thomas Orsini, health care leadership | 2018 Health Care Heroes
Thomas Orsini, president and CEO of Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital in Norfolk, is a people person. It’s a trait that has served him well in his 40 years as a health care administrator.
He credits his undergraduate education in journalism and public relations with honing his communication skills which he says are absolutely necessary in his business.
“Health care is a people business. Every day you meet somebody you’ve never met before. If you’re not comfortable with that, it might not be the job for you,” he said. “You need to be able walk into a room where a family is grieving, or a room full of angry nurses, or parents with a sick child. You have to be able to talk with people with a lot of emotion and be comfortable talking with them. It’s all about the communication.”
Orsini was brought on board in 1999 when the facility was mired in debt and largely bore the image of a place one goes to die. Under his direction, it has made a complete turnaround with stabilized finances and improved quality of care. Orsini tipped his hand to the changes to come at the outset of his tenure by encouraging the board to change the name from Lake Taylor Hospital to its current name, which he says is more accurate and descriptive.
Orsini described Lake Taylor at that time as a place “with a lot of old baggage” and said that while the job was pitched as an opportunity to turn things around, he saw it more as an opportunity to “turn-on.” To do that, he met with area health care providers and started asking questions.
From those meetings, it was determined the greatest area of need was care for ventilator-dependent patients.
“We took from that we needed to be the provider of choice for ventilator-dependent patients … and if they can’t (be taken off the ventilator), to bring in services like a computer that allows them to use their lips or nose to move the cursor to communicate and improve their quality of life,” he said.
Lake Taylor’s respiratory rehabilitation unit was designated a “center of excellence” in September by medical device manufacturer Passy-Muir Inc. and is one of only 15 facilities in the world recognized as such a place to enhance patients’ quality of life and reduce recovery times.
In addition to serving ventilator-dependent patients, Orsini wanted Lake Taylor to be the provider of choice for post-joint replacement surgery and rehabilitation.
“They don’t want to go to a nursing home, they want to go to the Hampton Inn. So we renovated our facility here to make it more of a hospitality place versus an institutional type of place,” he said. “They want a private room, bathroom and shower, wireless internet, recliners and flat screens. So we gave them all that here at Lake Taylor.
“So, we are the provider of choice for those patients. Plus, there is this wave of baby boomers coming through all needing these services. We work with the orthopedic surgeons and hospitals so we can provide post-acute services for them.”
He gave the patients what they wanted through a $25 million renovation and expansion completed in 2013 that included larger rooms with all of the bells and whistles.
After 40 years in the business, Orsini is still a people person, making daily rounds to meet and greet patients, often stopping by the mailroom to pick up mail, packages or flowers for them.
“It’s a nice icebreaker for me to introduce myself and say ‘I’m Thomas Orsini, I’m the manager here and I deliver the mail, too,’” he said.
-By Joy Vann
Feb 26, 2018