Jim Shaw Ready, Willing, Able To Serve
By Maria Sonnenberg // April 12, 2012
health care profile
‘It’s an honor and a privilege to represent our community’
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – When Jim Shaw took over the reins of the Health First board of directors from former chairman Rusty Fischer in October of last year, it would have been understandable if Shaw had felt a little nervous about the tasks ahead for him.
Changes, big changes, are stampeding towards the health care field, and those who are not ready will most certainly get trampled. Shaw has never lost any sleep worrying, however, for he feels confident the hospital system he leads is poised to not only survive, but thrive amidst the new order.
“The entire culture of healthcare is changing, and we need to be very nimble with the changes happening, but I feel very comfortable that Health First is going in the right direction,” said Shaw.
The new top man for Health First brings with him a bounty of experience from another field that has weathered cyclical dry spells: the aerospace and defense industry.
For 14 years, before he retired this past December, Shaw was senior vice president and general manager for L3 Communications in Melbourne.
Being chairman of the board for such a diversified entity as Health First requires prodigious leadership skills and the desire and ability to effectively engage and do some heavy sleeve-rolling for whatever issues and tasks that may arise. Shaw is ready, willing and able.
“It’s a big organization with a lot going on,” said Shaw.
“If I’m not able to give it 100 percent, I don’t believe I should be here. I don’t think you can do this job unless you’re retired, because this is a serious job in itself. Health First is a tremendous asset for our community. If you want to volunteer and make a difference, I think Health First is a great place in which to do it.”
When he moved to Brevard from Boston in 1989, Shaw had never expected to become such a key player in the county’s largest hospital system. At that point, his focus was in uniting three companies that had been acquired by his employer, Encore. For volunteer service, he joined the board of overseers of Florida Institute of Technology. The move was the first step on the road to the chairmanship at Health First.
“Mike McGuire of Holmes Regional Medical Center was another of the members and he asked me to join the Holmes board in 1998,” said Shaw.
After chairing the Holmes board, he stepped into the Health First board, eventually assuming the role of chairman of the finance committee and vice president before accepting the position of chairman.
“It is a great board for a great organization,” he said.
A chairman’s job is never done, since Shaw’s input is required throughout the many facets of Health First. The biggest challenge Shaw and new Health First CEO Steve Johnson currently face is to integrate all the many parts of Health First into a seamless single entity.
“If you look at Health First historically, it was based on a hospital system,” said Shaw.
“We also have a physicians’ group, the Pro-Health Fitness Center, hospice, the health plan and the foundation. If you look at the continuum of care, Health First had done some excellent things, but it was essentially a holding company with a set of individual entities. Structurally, we’re in the process of integrating the system within and aligning the board structure with the management structure. We must maximize all our assets to continue to provide the right care at the right time at the right price, while making sure we don’t lose the community aspect of our organization. In five years from now, when you see Health First, you are going to see a fully integrated healthcare delivery system.”
“We must maximize all our assets to continue to provide the right care at the right time at the right price, while making sure we don’t lose the community aspect of our organization. In five years from now, when you see Health First, you are going to see a fully integrated healthcare delivery system.”
To reach his goal, Shaw is dedicated to forging partnerships with other healthcare providers and mending fences that for many years seemed irreparable.
“I believe it is really important that all organizations work together to provide the best care for their community,” he said.
“If we don’t, we will just be increasing the cost line and not be truly serving the community.”
The new wellness model Health First is embracing is near and dear to Shaw’s heart, for the West Melbourne resident admits he’s a frequent flyer at Pro-Health Fitness Center in Melbourne.
“All our facilities are great, but I especially like Pro-Health,” he said.
“I go in there and I see young people as well as people in their 80s working out. I see the hard work they are doing. It is part of the wellness focus we’re now emphasizing. We’re changing the focus from sickness to wellness and Pro-Health personifies that focus.”
HEALTH FIRST BOARD MEMBERS
• James C. Shaw, Chair • Catherine A. Ford, Vice Chair • Eugene S. Cavallucci, Esq., Secretary • Kevin B. Steele, Treasurer • Russell E. Fischer, Immediate Past Chair • Brian J Bussen • James E. Carter, MD •Pamela A. Gatto • Judith A. George • Tony Hernandez III, Esq. • A. Thomas Hollingsworth, PhD • Steven P. Johnson, PhD • George W. Lewis • Nicholas E. Pellegrino • William C. Potter, Esq. • Kevin S. Pruett
Honor And A Privilege
When not on a Health First mission, Shaw is a homebody who, with wife, Lil, much appreciates that their three grown daughters have not strayed far from the nest.
“One lives in Melbourne, one in Orlando and one in Deland so they are all relatively close,” said Shaw.
“It gives you a chance to watch the grandkids grow. We both enjoy family activities.”
There is plenty of “grand” activity to watch, for the six Shaw grandchildren range in age from five to 12.
Shaw’s Sea Ray cruiser, the Juxtaposition, is definitely a grandkid magnet to Melbourne Harbor, where the boat lives.
Health First’s new chairman not only does not mind giving a large portion of his time and efforts to the healthcare system, but actually, he feels thankful for the opportunity.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to represent our community,” said Shaw.
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