Reaching out: Renown CEO wants to break big-box mold for health-care delivery

Renown Health's main medical center campus on Mill Street in Reno.

Renown Health's main medical center campus on Mill Street in Reno.

Anthony Slonim is breaking down barriers in Renown Health’s mission.

Northern Nevada’s largest health-care provider no longer sits solely in its traditional hospital settings, waiting for those seeking medical services to come through the doors.

That’s not Slonim’s vision. Now 3 ½ years into his tenure as president and CEO of Renown Health, Slonim preaches — and is practicing what he preaches — going out to those in need of services by opening up small neighborhood offices across Reno-Sparks and beyond.

Sure, the vast complex that is Renown Regional Medical Center, with its 12-story hospital tower on Mill Street, is still the company’s central flagship.

But that’s not enough.

“The bigger-box campus is not my model,” Slonim told the NNBW in a recent interview. “If my neighbor needs attention, why drive all the way to the hospital campus to get it? We want to be in the community.”

It shows with Renown’s 13 medical group and urgent care offices from the Spanish Springs Valley in north Sparks to the Summit at the south end of Reno. The reach is even farther as Renown has small offices in Carson City, Fallon, Fernley, Silver Springs, and on USA Parkway in the fast-growing industrial region of Sparks.

For Slonim, it’s been a whirlwind life as head of a not-for-profit empire that with nearly 7,000 employees makes Renown the biggest private employer in Northern Nevada.

That includes 1,200 doctors who staff those community offices as well as an array of specialty care locations and Renown’s two acute care hospitals in Reno and one in Minden.

And for Slonim, a New Jersey native and pediatric intensive care physician by trade, it’s about juggling the myriad demands of a CEO and remembering his roots as a doctor — something rare in the ranks of health care’s corporate world.

“I have a different lens. You learn with kids how to be compassionate,” he said. “You need to bring that lens with you.

“I remember my maternal grandmother died in my arms at home, surrounded by family, in hospice care. You learn how to convey that passion when you see the matriarch of your family dying and surrounded by her family.”

He recalls his medical education and said traditional ways of thinking can conflict with modern medical care.

“They always teach you in medical school, don’t get personally involved,” he said. “But if you don’t, you don’t provide full service. There’s nothing wrong with hugging family if that’s what they want, or praying with them if that’s what they want.”

And more and more, he said, the mission of the health-care industry, particularly entities as big as Renown, is about the health, not just the care.

“It’s how you bridge health to health care,” he said. “If you’re there for them, they’ll select you when it’s time to address more serious issues.”

And that mindset connects with getting out of the hospital setting and into the community, Slonim said.

“We want to be in the neighborhoods. That’s why we’re setting up little shops,” he said. “People love that they can go around the block and get care. When they need a trauma center, they need it. But for the little things we can offer, that’s the model.”

Even so, he’s not yet satisfied with Renown Health’s progress. Given its sheer size and scope, his biggest personal challenge, he said, is patience.

“Nothing ever moves fast enough for me. I’m from Jersey, where everything’s fast,” he said. “But fast is not necessarily good. If you’re going to be successful, you have to focus on people. People matter.”

One of the biggest misunderstandings the community has with Renown, he said, is just how big the operation is, with each of the three hospitals having its own CEO whom he oversees.

“On Monday mornings, I meet with key executive members. We go over what our performance was in the past week,” he said.

“There are 1,200 doctors in town. I haven’t met all of them,” he said. “We have 6,800 to 7,000 employees, and we try really hard to reach them all. My most important work is to drive a culture so people who seek us out get value.”

He said 60 percent to 70 percent of his work week is “externally focused,” addressing broad health-care industry concerns, sometimes on a national scale.

“I’m out there driving the conversation,” he said, including through his seats on several national committees that work with government and industry.

But Slonim is still tethered to the local front, and is mindful of Renown’s origins as Washoe County Hospital in the 1870s and, more recently, as Washoe Medical Center before the name change to Renown in 2006.

“When a new business comes to town and wants to be sure their employees are taken care of, I’m the guy they call for that,” he said.

For 2018, his goals include a “Back to Basics” initiative of core tenets for Renown staff in treating patients and improving outreach, including such seemingly small tasks as answering a patient’s questions.

“It’s assuring that we’re making doctors and patients happy,” he said. “People don’t mind waiting. They just want to be told why. One of our pillars is ‘one patient, one family, at a time.’ Giving the best service and access for everybody.”


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