July 22, 2008

Ex-Conemaugh Official Joins Windber Hospital Staff

By Randy Griffith, Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.

Jul. 22--WINDBER -- Another high-profile Conemaugh Health System executive is moving to Windber Medical Center's "Healing Hillside."

Dr. Matthew Masiello has resigned as Conemaugh's vice president for the Office of Community Health to become chief wellness officer and director of community health initiatives at Windber Research Institute.

"Clinical health promotion has become the new buzzword," Masiello said.

"Windber Research Institute is the optimum environment for that. Windber has long embraced a holistic approach with integrative medicine along with clinical programs for health promotion and disease prevention."

A board-certified pediatrician with expertise in the care of critically ill children, Masiello also holds a master's degree in public health from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

He is founder of the Child/Adolescent Health & Wellness Council of Cambria County, which developed a school-based bullying prevention program that serves as a model for statewide programs in the "Highmark Healthy High 5" initiative.

Masiello's devotion to improving community health makes him an asset to the region, said F. Nicholas Jacobs, chief executive officer of Windber Medical Center and Windber Research Institute.

"Matt and I have been talking since he first came to town (in 1997)," Jacobs said. "We found out, philosophically, we are on the same wavelength in terms of wellness and preventive medicine."

While Masiello wouldn't talk about why he left Conemaugh, he said it's important for a health system to "walk the walk" when it comes to preventive medicine.

"We in the United States have to go beyond the flavor of the day in regard to agencies and groups that comment about health promotion and disease prevention from the business end," Masiello said. "We have to look at it from the clinical and research side."

While Windber was part of the Conemaugh Health System in 2000, Jacobs and Windber's board built the Medical Arts Building to house the research institute, HealthStyles community fitness center and an integrative medicine program with acupuncture and music therapy.

Masiello's attention to ongoing evaluation of intervention efforts fits well with the research institute's growing community-based research, Jacobs said.

Led by Darrell Ellsworth, senior director of cardiovascular research, the programs include a childhood-obesity prevention initiative that has Windber Elementary School students dancing to better health on electronic dance pads.

Working with organizations such as the Cleveland Clinic, Masiello hopes Windber can develop a system to improve health-care providers' reimbursement for health promotion.

He is developing a questionnaire to evaluate patients' health risks and provide referrals.

Conemaugh leaders would not discuss Masiello's departure but released a statement that the office of community health and its staff will be maintained.

"In the future, we see the potential to work more collaboratively with other organizations that already operate in the communities we serve to better coordinate services for maximum impact," the hospital said.

Masiello isn't the first to move down the road.

In January, Conemaugh Health System Vice President Tom Kurtz left to form his own company.

His first client is Windber Research Institute. Kurtz is coordinating the research being done there with health care at Windber Medical and its Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center.


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