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Q&A: Jonathan Mohr, Chief Financial Officer Celebrating 10 Years with CHCB, Inc. !
November 3, 2020
It was also at NCCC that Jonathan first met Dr. Ansari who had the distinction of being the first Muslim African American female Vice President of the college. “Dr. Ansari encouraged me to pursue an MBA,” said Jonathan. “Then she moved on to the Community Health Center of Buffalo.”
According to Jonathan, it wasn’t until a few years later – after he indeed went on to complete a Master of Business Administration at Empire State College — that he reconnected with Dr. Ansari who as CHCB Chief Executive Officer reengaged with NCCC.
“Dr. Ansari was looking at a possible nursing-related program with NCCC when we reconnected,” explained Jonathan. “I had been at NCCC for 6 years and after discussing possible opportunities with Dr. Ansari, I accepted a position with CHCB as the Director of Human Resources.
“It was a lot different back then,” said Jonathan.
“We only had about 60 employees and were operating only one site.
“I was really fortunate to start my CHCB career under Dr. Ansari,” he continued.
“From the very beginning, she encouraged me to take on new challenges.
She always said, ‘someone can give you an opportunity,
then it’s up to you to do something with it.’”
Jonathan, true to his work ethic, has assumed progressive roles including Chief Human Resources Officer; and Practice Administrator in charge of Operations.
Most recently, that same philosophy led Jonathan to be appointed in May as Chief Financial Officer responsible for CHCB’s overall financial planning, budgeting, compliance with governmental requirements, and management of a talented, dedicated team including:
- Shanna Crocker, Revenue Cycle Director
- Doris Daniels, Purchasing Officer
- Brooke Janson, Accountant
- Raquel Harris, Director of Patient Services
- Tonya Robinson, Customer Service Center Manager
Jonathan is also a devoted family man. He and his wife Valerie have three sons: Julian, 6, Jarren, 5, and Jensen, 1; and a daughter Isabelle, 3. They reside in Wheatfield.
To learn more about how CHCB, Inc. operates, and how the organization has grown, Jonathan recently participated in an interview and provided his perspective having recently celebrated his 10th year with the organization.
Q. What was it like being named Chief Financial Officer in the middle of a pandemic?
Jonathan: Actually, I feel very fortunate that I became CFO at a time when our organization is in a strong financial position. It’s been a combination of factors. The government has been generous with supplemental funding. We were also very cost-conscious for the first three to four months of the COVID pandemic. We also have been continuously improving as an organization in both the delivery of our services and then getting reimbursed for the services we provide. You have to remember that we – unlike other providers – accept all insurances. This can sometimes present a reimbursement challenge.
I think the focus of our growth has always begun with asking the question ‘what is best for our patients?’ Dr. Ansari is leading us to focus on implementing and growing services that are most in demand, and then organizing those services under one roof to make them as easy as possible for our patients to access. Our Physical Therapy department on the fourth floor, and the addition of a Urologist on the first floor are just a few examples.
Q. I understand you recently celebrated your 10th anniversary with CHCB. From your perspective, what would you say makes CHCB a good place to work?
Jonathan: The thing I like the most is that you can see the direct impact we make on patients. While I’m not physically treating patients, I do regularly get calls regarding questions and issues they may have. If you enjoy and have a passion for helping people, this is a great place to be.
Q. The Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc, Inc. lists its five values as being Quality, Accountability, Diversity, Integrity and Collaboration. While it’s no doubt difficult to choose, as you think about the past decade, has any value particularly stood out in CHCB, Inc.’s success?
Jonathan: Collaboration has been a big one. The collaboration among all of our providers and team members across the organization is a driving factor in achieving successful patient outcomes. For example, we try to have really good relationships and connections with our providers in medical and with our physical therapist. We want there to be that relationship where the provider can call Dr. Volmy and say “I’ve got this patient that I need to send up to you. This is what’s going on with them.” We don’t want it to be a cold handoff. We want as many handoffs as possible to be warm.”
Q. Staying with the “Physical Therapy” example, how important is it for key departments and service lines to be under one roof?
Jonathan: The advantage of offering all the services a patient may need in one building is really great. We can easily tell them to go to the Pharmacy on the first floor, or up to Physical Therapy on the fourth floor and be certain that they are getting the follow up that they need. Caring for an underserved patient population presents unique challenges, like Transportation. So, when we get them in the door, the best thing we can do is address as many issues as possible while they are here.
Q. From your perspective as a member of the management leadership team, can you explain how CHCB, Inc. is governed and overall managed?
Jonathan: As a Federally Qualified Health Center we have a board of directors comprised of 51 percent patients. The chair of the board is Mr. Mark King who is a Retirement Planning Specialist/Financial Consultant with AXA Equitable Advisors, LLC. Dr. Ansari, who has been with the CHCB, Inc. since 2006, reports to the board. Under Dr. Ansari, we have an executive team which is comprised of myself; Dr. Arvela Heider who is our Chief Innovation Officer; Sharon Legette-Sobers, our Chief Operating Officer; Dr. Shilpa Kapoor, our Dental Director, and Dr. Kenyani Davis who is coordinating our Medical Providers.
We also have a Quality Management Council which is basically everybody from the mid-level management group and the executive group. This includes the Departmental Managers and our medical Records Manager. This is a group that meets once a month to review overall operations, address issues that may come up, and give positive feedback when it’s appropriate.
Then we have two teams off of this Council. Our Operations Team meets once a month. This includes the Site Directors, the Nursing Director, and the Information Technology Director. And this is where we basically go over and continually discuss how to improve all of our processes that are non-clinical in nature; processes such as the phones, referrals, etc. Then we have our Clinical Team which is all about quality improvement and clinical measures.
Q. You have reported to Dr. Ansari since 2010. Can you describe her impact on the organization?
Jonathan: It’s under her leadership that we have grown from one small site which was on the ECMC campus with about 6,000 patients and maybe 18,000 visits per year, to where we are right now which includes four locations plus a mobile unit; around 22,000 patients and about 56,000 visits this year with a budget of a little over 60,000 visits for next year.
Dr. Ansari is a very dynamic leader with tremendous vision. She is someone who believes in continuous improvement. With her guidance, we are always trying to move things from where we are to the next level.
Q. You mentioned CHCB started on the campus of the Erie County Medical Center. What are some of the highlights of CHCB’s history?
Jonathan: When we look at our history, we started in 1999 on the campus of ECMC. I joined the organization in 2010 which is right around the time we were launching our second site in Niagara Falls near Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.
In 2012, we opened our third location in Lockport, and we moved from the ECMC campus to our Buffalo site on Benwood Avenue. This was one of our big jumps in our growth. On ECMC’s campus, we only had maybe 12 exam rooms in a really small building. And it was when we moved to Benwood Avenue that things really opened up. This is a building we bought from Catholic Health and really gutted down to the studs and built it back up to the building it is now. And as we added service lines, we’ve brought it to 100 percent operational. For example, Physical Therapy up on the fourth floor is the most recent thing we have added.
And finally, the most recent points of growth were the foresight Dr. Ansari had to add Cheektowaga at the end of 2015, and to move our Niagara Falls office to where it is now in a new building that we built on Highland Avenue. We started with an empty parking lot in Niagara Falls and built a three-story building after receiving a Federal grant. We put this building right in the middle of the community of the population we are trying to serve.
Q. When did the Mobile Van come into the CHCB operation?
Jonathan: The Mobile unit is something we started doing in the last two or three years. Our original intentions for the Mobile Unit was for it to serve as a school-based clinic. But, with everything going on with the pandemic, we found out that where it could be really helpful was we could send it out into the community. We could take it to a church. We could take it to a large employer, and we could do COVID testing right on site for people. So, if you have an employer with 500 people, and they want to do a random check of all their staff to see if anybody is an asymptomatic carrier, we can send our mobile van over and we can quickly and efficiently test everybody. We park the mobile van here at Benwood Avenue two days a week. We park it in Niagara Falls one day a week, and then we send it out into the community a day or two a week to do testing.
Q. So the Mobile Van has really been playing a big role in providing COVID testing?
Jonathan: Absolutely! Since we launched Mobile Van testing in May, we have tested over 4,500 people. So, this is another example of dynamic leadership thinking on the fly and always adjusting based on what the demand and the needs are. We found a way to utilize the van which has not only been helpful for the company but for the community.
We are very proud of our mobile unit. The inside resembles everything a patient would see in an actual doctor’s exam room. People can come, receive care in a very comfortable environment much like what they would experience if they were going to the doctor normally.
Q. Are there other examples like the Mobile Van of “win-wins” for both patients and the organization?
Jonathan: We have Quest on site here in Buffalo so we can refer patients who need blood drawn right to our second floor. We also have a Pharmacy on the first floor which is not a service line of ours but is run by a different agency that rents from us to have that space. We also have Urology on the first floor. Again, this not our service line, but is a physician that rents space from us. But still, it’s a service that we can offer right in our building that we can refer a patient to and get their needs met.
Telepsychiatry is another new service line we started at the end of last year. We were bringing the patient in and having them video conference with our psychiatrist, but with all that is going on, we’re now actually finding that it’s better to keep the patient at home.
Behavioral Health previously had one of the highest no show rates for all of our service lines and we’re now finding that by having the patient connect from home, it drastically reduces the no show rates. So, we’ve gone from 35 to 40 percent of our patients not showing up for their Behavioral Health appointments to 10 percent not showing up. So that’s been a silver lining of the pandemic in that telepsychiatry is better meeting the patients’ needs. Perhaps they are more comfortable from their home. It also eliminates the need for transportation which can be an issue. By doing the visit virtually, it removes these barriers to care, and improves our ability to meet our patients’ needs and meet them where they are.
Q. Behavioral Health Services seem to really be growing for CHCB, is that right?
Jonathan: Behavioral Health is definitely a service line that has seen tremendous growth recently and continues to grow in spite of everything that is going on. That’s a service line that will easily exceed it’s budgeted volume for this year. In her couple of years at CHCB, Megan Quinn has done a wonderful job growing and shaping that entire Department. Along with Telepsychiatry, we also offer Mental Health First Aid Training led by Karl Shallowhorn who does a lot of educational training and speaks to different providers. We also broadcast a weekly Facebook live video cast co-hosted by Karl and Karla Thomas, our Marketing Director. During the pandemic, they interviewed different providers on many groundbreaking themes and topics.
Q. Are there other new services such as Telehealth that CHCB, Inc. has implemented?
Jonathan: Our Benwood Avenue building is about a 66,000 square foot building and our Niagara Falls building is about 25,000 square feet so while we have grown tremendously, we still have the capacity to deliver care to a lot more patients. Now, we’re just trying to fill up these buildings with services that our patients fully utilize.
Some of the new initiatives that we are working on include the portable dental unit. Every child is supposed to have a dental appointment and then submit a form to their school. So, one of the things that we’ve done is we’ve got this portable dental unit, it looks like a suit case, and as long as the room we are in has water, we can connect it and provide a dental visit at school to those kids who haven’t had a dental visit in the last year if their parent signs off on it.
Again, it’s always about what we can do to eliminate the barriers to care for the patients.
Dental is often not a service line that is prioritized. In urban areas especially, it seems Dental is often not prioritized. Usually, a visit is prompted by what pain do I have or what do I need to address the issue I am having right now. So, planning a hygiene visit six months from now is usually not a priority. So, if we can take the chair right to the school and say all you need to do is sign this form, we can provide the kids with dental care and that’s a great thing.
We also have a Nutritionist that works one day a week with us, and we have a certified diabetes educator. We’ve also brought Urban Fruits and Veggies in every Thursday, and as long as you are a patient of ours, you can get a box of fresh fruits and vegetables. So, we’re trying to get fresh foods to our patients as part of a more balanced, nutritional diet.
We also just launched the Safe Home program which we’re really proud of. Safe Home works to address when people are incarcerated, they start to lose their familial connections. So, if someone gets put in prison downstate and they have family upstate — transportation is an issue to get people to their doctor’s appointment 10 minutes away — so how are they going to get to a prison for a visit downstate to see their loved one?
So what we started doing with the Safe Home program is offer video visits where we bring the family into our building and do video conferences with the person incarcerated and try to maintain that familial relationship so that kids can still see their mother or father or grand parent or whomever that might be through a video visit.
Q. No doubt, you’ve been part of so many great changes and developments over the last 10 years. Looking ahead, what can you tell new employees to look for?
Jonathan: We’ve grown very quickly. When people join us, they often come in with the expectation that they are going to wear a certain hat. What they find is that they begin to wear two or even three hats. That’s because it was recognized that you have a skill or experience that we can take advantage of. We don’t want people to function in a vacuum. We’re not big enough to do that. If you have a skill to offer, an idea, we always want to be open to those ideas. And, the great thing about CHCB is that in addition to doing great work, you also get to work with a great group of people.