ROBERT P. MAIN
• Job: Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation CEO
• Education: Bachelor’s degree from State University of New York at Buffalo; master’s from University of Iowa
• Professional: Worked in health care jobs in New York, Iowa, Illinois and Oklahoma; past chairman of American Hospital Association Governing Council for Rehabilitation; past chairman of American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association
• Local service: member of United Way, Blood Assurance, Hospice of Chattanooga and The Jordan Thomas Foundation boards.
In 1986, a corporation was established by the Siskin Memorial Foundation to develop a rehabilitation hospital in Chattanooga. In March 1990, the hospital officially opened as an inpatient and outpatient facility in its present location behind Erlanger.
The Manager of the Year luncheon will take place Barry Rose 4/28/11 Wednesday, June 1, 11:30-1 p.m. at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
When Bob Main started his job 23 years ago, he was the first, and only, employee of Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation.
“I was given the chance of a lifetime to be able to design and build and staff a hospital,” said Main, who oversees the only freestanding, not-for-profit rehabilitation hospital in Tennessee that now employs nearly 400 people.
Main has been tapped as the 2011 Chattanooga Area Manager of the Year. The award, in its 24th year, is made annually by area business groups, including the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, which pick a manager deemed to have made a significant contribution to the area.
Main, the 67-year-old president and chief executive of the Chattanooga hospital, said he has had opportunities to leave the city but stayed.
“I’ve got a lot of blood, sweat and tears in this place,” he said about the 109-bed facility that marked its 20th year in 2010. “We’ve got a team that really cares about people.”
The Buffalo, N.Y., native said Siskin is “providing services to the community that were never there before.”
“In rehab circles, if you ask anybody and say Siskin Hospital, they’ll say Chattanooga, Tennessee. We’ve got a national reputation,” Main said.
Dr. John Boxell, who chairs the Siskin Hospital board, called Main “a compassionate person, committed, an extremely hard worker.”
“He’s constantly looking for ways to enhance care for the patients he serves,” Boxell said.
At Siskin, its staff deals with not just patients but their entire families, Main said.
“Their whole life has been altered,” he said. “We’ve got a chance to rebuild that lifestyle. It’s amazing what the human spirit can do.”
Siskin provides a lot of free care, the hospital CEO said, and it doesn’t have an endowment or foundation to speak of from which it can draw.
“That comes out of the hospital operation, but we’re doing well,” he said.
In 2009, the most recent year for which the hospital’s financial records are available, Siskin reported a net gain in income of more than $2.5 million on revenues of nearly $32.5 million.
According to the selection committee that picked Main for the award, the Chattanooga area has benefited from Main’s vision of providing specialized programs such as a brain injury unit and lymphedema, balance and dizziness, and driving evaluation programs.
Main worked with his staff to develop the Fitness Center at Siskin Hospital, which provides a place where disabled and able-bodied people, whether former patients or not, can exercise side-by-side with the benefit of using specially designed equipment developed for their needs.
Main said the biggest change in his job over the years is that it has “gotten tougher because no one wants to pay for service anymore.”
When Siskin opened, its average patient stay was 33 days, he said. Today, it’s 15 or 16 days, Main said.
“We have to fight to get patients certified for care,” he said.
In Tennessee, for example, TennCare won’t pay for inpatient rehabilitation, which Main said is highly unusual.
“People don’t think about rehab until they need it,” he said.
Looking ahead, Siskin officials are continuing to eye the area’s needs and to fill them, Main said, including preparing for health care reform. That includes looking at getting into an accountable care organization, one of the provisions in the reform bill in which service providers work together to offer a seamless continuum, he said.
“We’re monitoring very closely what’s happening in Washington,” Main said.
Boxell said Main is well-deserving of the recognition.
“Siskin is one of the leading rehabilitation hospitals in the country,” he said. “What he has demonstrated in leadership, longevity and commitment and compassion has paid dividends for our region.”
Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...