Jorge Orozco to receive Rancho's Amistad Award

DOWNEY - Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center Chief Executive Officer Jorge Orozco will receive Rancho's highest honor, the Amistad Award, at the Rancho Los Amigos Foundation's 2013 Amistad Gala. The gala will be held Saturday, April 13 at the Westin Long Beach Hotel. This year's theme is "Happy Birthday Rancho!" in honor of the hospital's 125th anniversary since it began serving the community in 1888.

Here is a brief summary of Mr. Orozco's career, followed by his explanation of how he came to Rancho, how he became a leader and the impact his leadership has had on the world-renowned rehabilitation center.

Mr. Orozco began his career as a Physical Therapist at Rancho in 1989. He moved quickly through the management ranks of the hospital, becoming Clinical Manager in 1993, Director of Physical Therapy in 1996 and Chief of the Rehabilitation Therapy Division in 2001. As Rancho was fighting for its very existence, he was promoted to Associate Hospital Administrator in 2004, Chief Operations Officer in 2005 and Chief Executive Officer in 2007. He continues to practice at Rancho as a Board Certified Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy.

Under Mr. Orozco's leadership, Rancho has not only survived, it has thrived. Last year Rancho was named one of the top ten hospitals in all of Los Angeles and Orange Counties, California's top rehabilitation hospital and one of America's Best Hospitals (for the 23rd consecutive year) by U.S. News & World Report.

Professionally, Mr. Orozco is an Executive Committee member of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Public Hospitals. He was the inaugural Chair of Corporate Diversity for Health Care Executives of Southern California and a former Board member of the National Forum for Latino Health Care Executives.

He has been involved in various healthcare initiatives, including chairing the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services Coverage Initiative proposal that led to implementation of Healthy Way LA; a member of the Advisory Panel on Practice for the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA); established the USC Physical Therapy Community Clinic; chaired the Committee on Cultural Competence of the APTA; and a clinical faculty member at USC Department of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy.

Mr. Orozco earned his Masters of Science degree in Health Care Management from California State University, Los Angeles; a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of California at San Francisco; and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. He is a Fellow of the California Health Leadership College and holds a certificate in Advanced Leadership Strategies for Health Care Executives from the Harvard School of Public Health.

"I graduated from UC San Francisco with a Physical Therapy degree and all along in my career I wanted to be a public servant - I wanted to work in a public hospital. So I worked at San Francisco General for a year after graduating.

"After that I moved back home to Los Angeles. Rancho was my first choice. It was the Mecca of physical therapy. I had read about the work that was being done at Rancho, I knew about Dr. Jacquelin Perry, and I really wanted to work here. "Luckily I was hired as a physical therapist on the brain injury service. It was wonderful. I learned my craft, my profession as a physical therapist. I was working with the community that I wanted to work with. I just loved it. I felt I would be here a couple of years and move on and open my private practice. But there's something about Rancho that keeps you here...and the spirit and soul of Rancho just consumed me.

"So I was a staff physical therapist for a couple of years and my supervisor at the time, Jackie Montgomery, was promoted to Director of Physical Therapy. She asked if I would move into the manager role and I resisted that offer. I was happy being a physical therapist, because I was passionate about patient care. It was very rewarding to me. Finally, I agreed to be a manager in the interim. That was the first experience I had that allowed me to see that as you move up in an organization, the impact is greater. And so I was given that opportunity as the manager, than director of physical therapy, then chief operations officer and then CEO.

"I love my job here. It's the ability to make a difference in a community that needs these specialized services. I love treating patients, I love interacting with families and patients, I love seeing staff blossom and grow into leaders here at Rancho and in their community.

"Rancho has always had a great reputation. I think the reputation was well-deserved in terms of the innovation that happened here, the leadership in rehabilitation.

"The vision that I have for Rancho is that it will emerge as the leader in developing the best model in clinical care for persons with disabilities. I strongly believe that we are well on the way with that.

"I'm very proud that there is a lot of substance behind our reputation - that we have been able to craft innovations at Rancho that are models for rehabilitation, that we have continued to be leaders in research, that we continue to be leaders in education, and that we continue to provide care and service to this population that is really at a national level.

"Our patient experience scores are in the top ten percent of the country. We're very proud of that...and we're very proud of being a safety net hospital. We provide great quality care to the people we serve, many of whom do not have a choice. That is likely to change with the Affordable Care Act, and I think we are well-positioned to be a provider of choice.

"Rancho is an extraordinary place. First and foremost it is extraordinary because of the people that work here. I think Rancho attracts individuals who are passionate about being the best. It really makes my job easy. My job is largely to allow the staff to blossom, to grow, to implement their ideas - and that's the kind of people who work here at Rancho. They go the extra mile for their patients. They go the extra mile to push themselves to learn and stay evidence-based and that's what makes Rancho special.

"I'm extremely proud of demonstrating that the patients are valuable resources in this organization. They are valuable resources for delivering quality of care. We have in the last couple of years been able to hire a significant number of highly skilled individuals who happen to have been patients at Rancho, and we have integrated them into our delivery model.

"They run our Wellness Center. They run our Resource Center. They provide peer mentoring to our patients. It's this kind of model of care that will succeed in the future, because it is a model of the highest quality, it is a model that can be spread throughout the community, and it values individuals and gives them an opportunity to be employed and to have meaning in their lives through that employment. I am very proud of having accomplished that."

Next week the Patriot will profile Rancho patient, artist and community leader Annie Ruth, who will also receive the Amistad Award at the Rancho Los Amigos Foundation's 2013 Amistad Gala on April 13.

********** Published: April 4, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 51