Karl Bays, Allen Hicks, Robert Sigmond: Welcome to the Health Care Hall of Fame.
There simply aren't any better. I've known Allen Hicks for close to 30 years. Karl Bays was always my hero, and over the years, I've heard nothing but praise about the contributions Bob Sigmond has made to healthcare.
Bays was the salesman of all time and one of the truly great healthcare leaders. He's still remembered fondly by competitors, colleagues and provider chief executive officers, who knew him as a friend as well as a business associate. I still remember him, and I can tell Bays stories that are legendary. Bays attended Eastern Kentucky University where he played football. He spent two years in the U.S. Marine Corps, and then, after getting his master's degree in business administration from Indiana University, started his long career with American Hospital Supply Co. As a rookie peddler he earned his spurs and would later become, in short order, the chairman and CEO in 1971 at age 37. His legend lives on.
Hicks is the icing on the cake. He's a man for all seasons, someone totally dedicated to the healthcare industry. He toiled in the trenches year after year mentoring junior executives, trying out innovative ideas and always doing it with good humor and integrity. He has always been practical, with just enough entrepreneurial spirit to keep colleagues on their toes. He has spent more than 46 years in the industry, running hospitals as well as healthcare systems. He knows how to get things done and how to make people feel good about their work. He's a consummate leader who, at age 72, is just as energetic today as he was when he started his career. He continues to share his wisdom through his consulting work.
One observation aptly describes Sigmond's thinking about the healthcare community. He believed those who ran hospitals spent more time worrying about their buildings and other incidentals than they did about their patients. Sigmond stated his case this way: "They were all nice people. They wanted to do the right thing. But they didn't organize their activities in terms of health problems and the people."
Back in the '60s and '70s, many healthcare executives were not as enlightened as Sigmond was. He has always been puckish and outspoken, but when he speaks, people listen, because he knows what he's talking about. Today he's a scholar in residence in the graduate healthcare administration program at Temple University in Philadelphia. He was a longtime adviser to Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, and has always championed the cause of hospitals being an integral part of the community. He's still pushing healthcare organizations to become more involved. And to a great extent, because of his advocacy, they have.
Again, welcome to the Hall of Fame, gentlemen. You truly have earned the honor.
Charles S. Lauer, publisher