Gary Allore took over this month as president and CEO of Mercy Health Muskegon with a deep knowledge of the region’s health care market. Allore has worked for nearly 30 years for the Catholic Health system’s local and regional operations. He previously served as regional chief financial officer for Mercy Health West Michigan, which includes Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids. In his new role, he succeeds Greg Loomis, who retired in June, as Mercy Health Muskegon continues construction on a $271 million expansion and faces new competition from Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health’s move into the market over the last two years. The 54-year-old Muskegon native spoke with MiBiz about his new role as CEO.
What attracted you to the CEO’s position?
To me, it’s the ability to lead an organization that I’ve got a strong passion for. I’ve been in health care in this community my whole life and worked in health care my whole life. I’ve continued to take additional responsibilities from a leadership perspective and for me this was the ultimate opportunity to do the work that I love to do.
You’ve been working in health care in the Muskegon market for nearly 30 years. How does that benefit you?
That’s the real strength, and I think during the whole interview process that’s what the search committee saw as the real strength. It benefits me because I know the operation of the organization through my history in finance and operations. I understand the community very well.
The benefit for me is because I have a good flavor for the operation I’ll be able to spend most of my time talking with physicians, talking with our community, and talking with our colleagues about what they feel like we need to do next.
Why does continuity in leadership matter at this point in time for Mercy Health Muskegon?
This is an extremely competitive environment, and we don’t have time for a two-year learning curve. Understanding the organization and understanding the community allows me to get right to work and start talking about strategies and looking at the vision of how we’re going to go from where we are today to where we’re going to be in the beautiful new facility. That continuity allows me to hit the ground running.
You have a formidable competitor in Spectrum Health, which has been making investments in the market. How do you meet that competition?
They absolutely are a formidable competitor, just as we are in West Michigan. We meet it by continuing to partner with our community and continuing to provide the care that we always have in all parts of our community, and we’ve been able to recruit some pretty significant specialists in Muskegon.
We’ve seen some nice market-share growth. Certain specialties like cardiology and neurosciences, we’ve made some big advancements. Working with (parent corporation) Trinity Health and Mercy Health West Michigan, we’ve been able to partner and grow service lines together that we wouldn’t have been able to do individually.
How do you bring in new ideas and fresh perspectives that could have come if someone from the outside were hired? How do you help reshape the organization as the industry changes?
The thing that I think is positive is that I have not been in this role and I have not been in a president’s role in the past, so I think I’m going to have a new set of eyes and ears on everything we do. I totally understand that I need to be the change agent, and the way I plan to do that is to listen to the organization. They know what they’re doing every day and they know the service we need to provide. I think a lot of the answers of how we’ll compete are going to come from our organization and from our community.
We have the strong connections, and we always have, in this community. We’ll be able to listen to our community and they’re going to want to work with us.
How does the new facility and project change the equation for Mercy Health Muskegon?
We’re not only working on the facility, the bricks and mortar of a new building, but the process flow and the service level that we’re going to provide as we move into this new building. We want to absolutely make sure it matches the state-of-the-art facility.
There’s already momentum. I’ve seen it in our community and I’ve seen it in our volume numbers. There’s a momentum about “look at what Trinity and Mercy Health is investing in this community.” There are not many places that are willing to invest $271 million in our community. The community sees that, acknowledges that, and is looking forward to seeing the success. It’s a rallying cry for our community.