MNU news

Olathe Icon Receives MNU's Lifetime Achievement Award

By Carol Best

April 14, 2014

Olathe icon Frank H. Devocelle, president and CEO of Olathe Health System, Inc. (OHSI), was honored with MidAmerica Nazarene University’s Lifetime Achievement Award at President’s Honors, the university’s annual scholarship fundraising gala, April 11, 2014, which raised more than $550,000 for students. During more than 40 years of service, Devocelle has led the growth of a small community hospital to a comprehensive regional health system that today serves five counties with two medical centers, 36 clinics, 327 physicians and more than 2,500 employees.

Devocelle oversees various health system corporations including Olathe Medical Center, (OMC), Miami County Medical Center, (MCMC) and Olathe Medical Services, Inc. (OMSI), a large physician corporation. When asked about his greatest accomplishment, Devocelle is quick to note that the accomplishments are due to the team.

“It’s definitely not me, it’s the Board and the team,” Devocelle asserts. “There are two things that stand out as most significant to me. Moving to our current location on 151st Street and assimilating all the acreage from I-35 to K-7.”

The move and acquisition of land is part of what has allowed OHSI to create what Devocelle terms a “continuum of care.” The 276-acre campus includes the medical center which offers full service emergency care, comprehensive acute care, specialties such as the Kansas Cardiovascular Center, Olathe Regional Oncology Center and the Kansas Joint Specialty Center.  Other facilities on the campus are The Olathe Medical Pavilion, an advanced imaging center for diagnosis, treatment and follow up, Hoeger House, a short-term rehabilitation facility, and Cedar Lake Village, a senior living retirement community with independent and assisted living. In addition, skilled nursing home care is provided at the Good Samaritan Center. The latest facility and service is Hospice House slated to open in September 2014 which will offer end-of-life care and respite care.

Although genuinely humble, Devocelle is responsible for the decisions that have resulted in OMCI being recognized for its quality, financial stability and customer service culture. The organization has an A+ Standard & Poor’s bond rating (78 of 5,500 hospitals have achieved this level). It was the recipient of the Governor’s Award of Excellence (the top employer award in Kansas) as well as being recognized as one of the five best hospitals in the Great Plains Region for Heart Valve Replacement Surgery by Money Magazine. OMCI is also a Top 100 Hospital for hip and knee replacement per government quality data (5,500 hospitals nationally).

Devocelle insists that others have helped lead the health system in achieving the gold standards of accreditation and quality for health care organizations.

“Surround yourself with people who are better than you and you look good,” says Devocelle. “People who know me know that that’s right on.”

The similarities between the growth of the hospital and the university are remarkable. Literally within sight of one another at the time, Mid-America Nazarene College and Olathe Community Hospital were both located on land donated by R.R. Osborne. The hospital moved from a 30-bed to a new 100-bed facility in 1968, the same year the college held its first classes. The college and the hospital grew rapidly, adding facilities and services to both anticipate and meet community needs.

“Both the college and the medical center had to have a vision to get where they are today,” Devocelle said. “So there are parallels between the two.”

These parallels include shared values between the two institutions, which Devocelle says are community purpose, not-for-profit purpose, respect for life and helping those most in need. During his career at OHSI, Devocelle has encouraged service to the university and provided charitable support. Serving on the university’s nursing degree feasibility committee, Devocelle says the partnership between OHSI and MNU “grew the way we originally envisioned.”

“We went through some severe nursing shortages in the 70s,” Devocelle said. “And we thought, wouldn’t it be beautiful to have a nursing school in our hometown? It’s proven to be a good decision in that we’ve been able to recruit superb quality nurses from MidAmerica.”

Devocelle cites MNU’s high first-time pass rates on nursing boards and says the graduates are team players and good role models with values similar to his organization.

As Olathe Health System CEO, Devocelle has demonstrated strong support to the university throughout the years. More than $1 million has been given to MNU by Olathe Health System, Inc. to support student scholarships, enhance the university’s nursing program and assist in the development and continual improvement of nursing labs. A recent significant gift from OHSI to MNU was $150,000 toward the expansion and improvement of the nursing skills simulation lab. OMC, and its orthopedic specialists, also have a long-standing working relationship with MNU in sports medicine.

When asked why he feels so strongly about supporting MNU, Devocelle says that like the medical center, MNU enhances the quality of life in Olathe.

“MNU makes Olathe a great place to live. Without the university Olathe would not be the town it is today. The nursing program and the university as a whole are a jewel in the community and a critical part of the fabric of Olathe. We want that to grow and mature in the best way possible.”

Area Leaders Praise Devocelle’s Vision for Olathe and Hospital

Frank H. Devocelle’s strong leadership at Olathe Medical Center and in the community of Olathe is well known. Long time colleagues say this and his 40-year tenure at the helm of the health system is what makes him so deserving of MidAmerica Nazarene University’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Keith Sheffer, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon in Olathe, said he has worked beside Devocelle for 40 years and has gotten a “pretty good indication of the quality of the man.”

“I don’t know of anyone in my lifetime that is more deserving,” Sheffer said. “He has always had a great admiration for the contributions that MidAmerica has had in Olathe. It’s an honorable institution that has a great reputation in the area, and it fits directly into Mr. Devocelle’s plan for how to make Olathe successful and how to make the hospital successful.”

Retired Olathe School District Superintendent Dr. Patricia All echoed Sheffer’s thoughts. When asked to summarize Devocelle’s personality and leadership she responded with the word “visionary.” All is well acquainted with Devocelle having worked with him on many partnerships between OMCI and the school district. Currently she serves on the Board of Trustees for the medical center.

“He’s always forward thinking; looking out five to ten years,” All said. “He jumps on opportunities for excellence and improvement. If you have an idea, something you want to create a public and private partnership around [in Olathe], you want Frank Devocelle at the table.”

All said Devocelle’s leadership is woven into Olathe’s and the university’s success. 

“This award is very fitting because Frank has always sought partners and relationships in the community,” All asserted. “I think he’s very proud of MidAmerica, and if you look at its history, which parallels his history and the major growth in the Olathe community at large, there are many things you can see that are very similar in the leadership of MNU; from a very small start-up college to a very well-known and respected university in the greater Metropolitan area and beyond. The same can be said of this hospital. It started out as a small community hospital and Frank had the vision that it could be something more than what it was. He also respected the founders of the hospital and respected the excellence that had gone on before, but he wasn’t satisfied to have it stay that way.”

Jon North, vice president for university advancement says Devocelle is “a man of great humility who consistently directs the credit for his organization’s success to his leadership team and board.”

“Without Frank’s vision for developing a world-class, hometown healthcare system and his passion for seeing Olathe grow and mature in the best way possible, Olathe and MNU would not be the thriving, rich entities they are today,” North added. “His incredible legacies of service and excellence are an inspiration and deserving of recognition.”

Nursing students at MNU get realistic skills training through Medium to Low Fidelity Simulations (MLFS) with patient simulators that talk, express pain and can stop breathing This area of the lab was recently expanded by 560 square feet thanks to a donation of $150,000 over three years by the Olathe Medical Center.

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