The Right Fit: NAOHP’s New Leaders Share Their Excitement

By Nick Dmitrovich

Over 30 years ago, Frank Leone

founded Ryan Associates

Tim Ross

National Association of Occupational Health Professionals (NAOHP)after recognizing a need for occupational health resources between companies and healthcare organizations throughout the country. This year, NAOHP is entering into a new chapter of its history, looking forward to a bright future under new leaders who have been working to advance the occupational health industry for decades.

Under the direction of Tim and Cindy Ross, who together have nearly 50 years of experience in the industry, new opportunities are being developed forNAOHP and its members that will serve to bolster the association’s standing as the definitive resource for occupational health professionals throughout the country The Rosses have served indifferent healthcare companies throughout the northwest Indiana region on several different administrative levels.

Over 22 years ago, Cindy Ross was working in the human resources department of St. Anthony’s Hospital in Crownpoint, IN, when she first learned about occupational health. One of the company’s vice presidents informed her that the hospital was seeking to establish an occupational health program, dubbed“Partners and Care,” after hearing about emerging trends taking place throughout the country. She was selected to be the business development head for the new project due to her understanding of sales.

The project started with a single clinic and quickly grew to five. Partners in Care, at the time, was considered to be the cutting edge of the emerging occupational health industry in the Northwest Indiana region. It had by far the most occupational health clinics of any health system throughout the region. Cindy Ross was a key component of the program’s expansion, as she was the person connecting with local companies to help them understand occupational health.“In those days, a lot of employers didn’t know that occupational health existed,” Tim Ross said. “Over time, things changed, and now there are 13 occupational health clinics, with three of them being blended express care/occupational health clinics, throughout our region and south suburban Chicago.”Our goal was to build a strong business partnership between our healthcare system and the local major employers,”

Cindy Ross said. “We needed to find out what the employers’ needs were, to help them convey to their employees how to get healthy and stay healthy, and how to avoid on-the-job injuries.”Tim Ross began his occupational health career about 17 years ago while he was in a sales and marketing role at the former St. Margaret Mercy Hospital in Hammond/Dyer, IN (which is now FranciscanHealth Hammond/Dyer). Over time, he transitioned into a business development position for the hospital’s occupational health department, in addition to working in physician relations and business development.

A few years later, at St.Anthony’s Hospital in Michigan City, I acquired an occupational health program, and a partnership was formed wherein Tim would divide his time between the two hospitals to help their programs grow. The duo was developing their programs simultaneously across several different healthcare companies when they started attending NOAH’s annual conference and met Frank Leone as an attendee.

During the 2015 NAAHP conference in Chicago, Tim Ross had the opportunity to have a curb-side discussion with Leone outside the conference where he learned about the NAOHP founder’s upcoming plans for retirement and his desire to transfer ownership of the association.

Upon returning to his hotel room, where Cindy was working remotely while attending the conference, Tim excitedly wondered what it would be like to assume the mantle of NAOHP’s leadership.“Think about it,” Cindy recalls saying, “This is what we know. This is the industry we’ve been working in together for over 20 years. I think it would be a great fit.”Later, they set a meeting with Leone. At The time, he had several different parties interested in purchasing the organization.

Throughout a series of negotiations and meetings, the parties agreed that, indeed, the Rosses would be a great fit for the association. Today, Cindy Ross has assumed the role of president of NAOH and RyanAssociates, and Tim Ross is serving in the role of NOAH’s executive director of the board in addition to his duties as administrative director of Retail Services North, for Franciscan Alliance, which includes13 occupational/employee health and express care clinics.

Renewed Focus on Occupational Health

The Rosses have been working closely with board members, partners, and association members to generate fresh ideas for NAOHP, which they’re planning on implementing in phases. The first of these phases involves the expansion of NAOH P’s roster of members, broadening its scope of services, and developing new concepts for the association’s annual conference.

“We never want to lose sight of occupational health as our main focus, which will always be the core of NAOHP. People still look to NAOHP and Ryan Associates as a place they can refer to for occupational health expertise, and our goal is to preserve that distinction,” said Cindy Ross. She also described the couple’s intent to take the message of NAOHP even further by informing more employers about the benefits of occupational wellness and the impact it can have on their companies, while at the same time allowing healthcare providers to gain a deeper understanding of employer needs. New certification opportunities are also being considered.

“We’re putting a focus on NAOHP’s six pillars,” Tim Ross said. “Most occupational health programs today are probably performing one or more of these six pillars, to begin with, so we’re branching out from there to help companies develop their programs.”

cindy ross

“This is what we do. We do occupational health. This is where experience does matter. We want to continue serving as the number one association for occupational health.”

– Cindy Ross

“We have resources that people can turn to, networking resources, and much more,” Tim Ross said. “Our consultants can be contacted about anything from simple day-to-day questions that new occupational health professionals may have, and we can provide answers for experts in the field who may be looking for benchmarking strategies that we might be able to help them with. Our board members are here to provide guidance, and they’re strategically placed around the country to help different regions. ”With regard to the couple’s plans for expanding the conference, one of their biggest goals is to build stronger connections between employers and healthcare groups.

 NAOHP’s current membership consists of a wide variety of individuals(occupational health program administrators, directors, managers, physicians, nurses, clinical staff, owners, CEOs, business development, and sales/marketing) who are all working with employers. Currently, the Rosses are considering bringing an employer mix into the conference in the form of an employer panel to provide a new perspective on their particular industry needs.

“An employer’s perspective will benefit program administrators. We’re hoping to learn more about what works for them and what doesn’t, and some of that might be a brand new idea for our members. This will help them gain a deeper understanding of their target audience,” Tim Ross said.“Many of our members have been attending the conference for many years, and we want to present them with fresh ideas that can help grow their programs,” Cindy Ross added.

The Right Fit

NAOHP certainly has a lot to look forward to. The support of board members combined with the decades of experience the Rosses have in advancing occupational health programs will be a great fit for the association’s bright future. It could bring about a new chapter in the industry overall. “We hope that our members can sense our passion and excitement when it comes to our role in NAOHP and occupational health,” Cindy Ross said. “We want to revive this passion in our long-term members and spread the word to new audiences. We are here as a resource, and we’re here to help develop your programs.”

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