Building a Workplace That Cares

By Scott Jessie, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, Chief Nursing Officer, Upstate University Hospital

Scott Jessie, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, is the Chief Nursing Officer at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, NY. He has more than 20 years’ experience in the health care field, including 14 years of progressive leadership roles in the ICU, Emergency Services and the COVID-19 response team. He has earned many awards during his career, holds a master’s degree in nursing and is currently pursuing an MBA. 

The healthcare business is not the only one looking to attract and retain the best staff, but it is one of the most publicized — and among the most complicated. At Upstate, like all hospitals, nursing is the largest occupation, so we also have the greatest numbers to attract and retain.

The healthcare workforce shortage is a long-haul situation, not a six-month event. Recovery from this industry-disrupting event will take years to address. Over time, we will bounce back and will have to develop new ways of doing things. The more talent we can retain to begin with, the less we will have to rebuild.

Wellness must be incorporated into the new healthcare workforce paradigm. Nurses are the largest group of employees, but all roles need support and a work environment that cares for them as much as they care for the patients. Improving wellness support and activities will have a fundamental ripple effect for all.

Respect what they have been through, and respect them

Nurses and healthcare staff were the heroes last year. The glow has faded but their core work is the same. Two years into the pandemic no other job has seen the collective death toll of COVID, except perhaps funeral homes. We all know in nursing that you’re going to take care of people who are going to die. I worked in an ICU for almost 20 years and took care of a lot of patients who died, but this outpaces any normal expectations. And it’s across all age spectrums, which is devastating. People have been so emotionally impacted by that. This extreme situation has to be acknowledged. This has caused a never-before-seen amount of distress among all staff and we must find ways to support and help those affected.

Make Wellness more than a buzzword

Nurses and others at the front lines of care are physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. The emotional toll is overwhelming for many. We need to provide ways to decompress from work while at work and at home. None of us have lived through a pandemic before, but the experience for healthcare workers has been even more unique. Things aren’t normal at home, and things at work have remained exceptionally challenging as we have now gone through four waves at this point. Nurses and others have had to change so much of their routine: how they function, working very short staffed, and continually face COVID-19 up close.

We have never experienced a crisis of this magnitude, and we need to create new ways to support the frontlines and help them cope. Not every person will need this support, but for the ones that do, it is crucial that we support them and help them recover. Ideally, I would like to be able to build an environment where people could talk to counselors on the spot — having these teams out and about on floors, so if someone has 15 minutes in the break room they might sit down and talk. Very informal. Not stressful. Not “oh my gosh, I need to see a therapist” although that might follow. More of a chance to decompress and be asked, “Hey, how are you doing? Genuinely, how are you doing?” That could be the first layer, so to speak. If they need more, we should make it easier for them to connect with additional services, with no stigma for that option.

Know the true cost of retention

It costs money to keep people. That’s the truth. But it’s not just in salaries. You have to make hard business decisions to make the work environment better, even when the pandemic deck is stacked against you. One way we’re able to make the job better is to aim to keep a tight grip on the ratios — that is the number of patients a nurse has to oversee. Reducing staffed beds and limiting surgeries are effective but extremely costly tools to manage nurse-to-patient ratios. Some may argue that we still have to protect the bottom line, and there is validity in that. At the same time, preserving our workforce — even at a cost today — will better position us for the healthcare challenges of tomorrow. People will always be our most important resource. Lower ratios are a quiet way to show staff that we really do appreciate and value them, and we are trying to do our best to keep them.

We want to do these things for the current workforce and for the next. The impact of the pandemic is staggering but nurses never stopped caring. Nurses — and everyone at the front lines —need care in return as well.

The Critical Role of Apprenticeship and CTE Programs in the Construction Industry

Earl R. Hall, Executive Director; Syracuse Builders Exchange

Labor shortages continue to plague the construction industry both regionally and nationally, with such issues happening long before the COVID-19 pandemic.  Although the pandemic has increased the shortage of workers, the long-term solutions to solving the labor shortage in construction remain complex.  Two such solutions which have proven to be effective are the apprenticeship programs offered via the many local building trade unions and the Career and Technical Education programs offered by local school districts.

There is a renewed focus on apprenticeship and training programs by the trades across upstate New York.  Apprenticeship programs combine classroom and industry-related instruction provided by the union, with on-the-job learning provided by employers.  All apprenticeship programs are registered with the New York State Department of Labor and governed by a Board of Trustees which include both employer and union representation.

Capital investments into new or existing apprenticeship and training centers can be seen right here in central New York.  The North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters Local 277 built a state-of-the-art training center in 2018 in Syracuse.  During 2021, the union recruited 250 apprentices and new journeymen/women into the union.  As a result, the union is planning to expand the training center to not only accommodate the new apprentices, but to provide the delivery of additional training and education.

Apprenticeship programs remain attractive to young men and women as they provide a career pathway without having to incur debt to pay for the training and education.  The “learn while you earn” concept is a delicate balance of providing apprentices with required training and on the job work.  As a trustee on many of these Funds, I see firsthand the immediate benefit of this model for both the career-minded apprentices and those employers who hire them.

Pre-apprenticeship programs attract candidates who may explore the construction industry at a very elementary level while deciding if it is a career for them, and if so, what trade is of most interest.  In central New York the Syracuse Builders Exchange has partnered with Syracuse Build’s Executive Director Christopher Montgomery to place those students who graduate from their pre-apprenticeship program.  Graduating students may be placed directly into the workforce with a construction industry employer or may be placed into one of the many union apprenticeship and training programs to further develop their careers.

Career and Technical Education (“CTE”) programs have increased in high schools throughout upstate New York.  As a member of the Syracuse City School District’s CTE advisory board, I witness the impact such programs have on impressionable, young students who see themselves entering their chosen career upon graduation from high school.  Although the Syracuse City School District’s CTE program was the first of its kind in upstate New York, the model developed by the Syracuse City School District is now being reviewed and considered by other school districts. 

While construction, welding and electrical are just a few of the career pathways offered by the CTE program, new offerings such as Construction Management will be delivered to students in September 2023 when the new STEAM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) school opens in downtown Syracuse.  The Construction Management curriculum is being developed by a committee of executives of construction management companies from throughout central New York.

While no one solution will solve the labor shortage issues plaguing the construction industry, initiatives such as apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, and CTE programs in high schools provide employers with optimism that the next generation of construction worker is actively being recruited.  The question is, will there be enough workers to fill all the positions anticipated over the next few years?  Most likely not.

Keeping Care Local: Michael Harlovic, President and CEO of Oswego Health

By: Becca Taurisano

Michael Harlovic, President and CEO, Oswego Health

Inpatient Staff, Oswego NY

Oswego Hospital, Oswego NY

Lakeview Center for Mental Health and Wellness, Oswego NY

Patient Room, Oswego Hospital, Oswego NY

Emergency Department Staff, Oswego Hospital, Oswego NY

The Manor at Seneca Hill, Skilled Nursing Facility, Oswego NY

Careers are the intersection of time, place, and opportunity,” says Oswego Health President and CEO, Michael Harlovic. “It’s been a fantastic decisioncoming to Oswego.” A Pittsburgh native, Harlovic received a Bachelor of Nursing in 1985 and a Masters of Psychiatric Nursing in 1989 from the University of Pittsburgh. For 24 years, Harlovic served in various roles from Psychiatric Program Manager, Director of Nursing, Chief Nursing Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and eventually President and CEO for Allegheny General Hospital, the flagship hospital of the Allegheny Health Network, a seven-hospital health system.

Harlovic was the President and CEO of Allegheny Valley Hospital, a 230-bed, community hospital in Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania, when he was asked to serve as the interim President and CEO of Allegheny General Hospital, a 635-bed academic quaternary facility with 5,000 employees. He ran both facilities for nine months while the health system searched for a permanent CEO. “I never wrote interim on my badge, I just worked as if I was the permanent CEO from day one,” Harlovic says. The balancing act of running both the flagship facility and the community hospital prepared him for working in any environment.

Harlovic was named as the permanent President and CEO of Allegheny General Hospital for three years before new corporate management decided all health network hospitals should be physician-led. Management offered him a different position in the organization, but Harlovic decided at 55 years old it was time to retire, and he enjoyed his first summer off in his adult life. That fall, a recruiter called him about an opportunity at Oswego Health.


As Harlovic began to learn more about the community Oswego Health serves, he was surprised by what he found. “I was taken aback at all it had to offer,” he says, “such as the waterfront area, readily available education (SUNY Oswego), city revitalization projects, aluminum and energy industries, and a centralized location between Syracuse and Rochester.” The Oswego Health system impressed Harlovic as well. Oswego Health has 17 different locations offering diverse services, including a 162-bed acute care facility, a 120-bed long-term care facility, a 57-unit retirement home, full-service urgent care with laboratory and radiology services in Fulton and Central Square, primary care physicians, and a home care agency. “Typically, smaller hospitals, or sole community hospitals, do not have these robust offerings.” In addition, Oswego Health offers specialty services like orthopedic, bariatric, wound care, gastroenterology, ENT, general surgery, behavioral health, and obstetrics and gynecological surgery.

Oswego Health serves all of Oswego County, which includes approximately 120,000 people over 1,100 square miles. At 140 years old, the Oswego Health system is one of a handful of independent health systems left in New York State, including over 200 hospitals. Staying independent is very important to Oswego Health. “We are so mobile and fast. We don’t seek approval from anyone to change direction, other than our board of directors. I have worked in both kinds of health systems and being an independent health system is fabulous,” Harlovic says.


Oswego Health’s mission and vision is to provide high-quality, affordable, accessible health care to improve the health of the residents of the community. “It’s important to us to keep care local,” Harlovic says. To this end, Harlovic oversees a focused effort on the modernization of facilities including equipment and structural enhancements, made possible by the Oswego Health Foundation and private contributions from the community, local businesses, and their very own employees. “It’s that kind of help that supports providing local healthcare,” Harlovic says.

Oswego Health recently completed the development of the Lakeview Center for Mental Health and Wellness, a 42,000 sq ft behavioral health facility, made possible by a $13 million transformational grant from the New York State Department of Health as well as $4 million in board pledges and community support. The facility opened in January 2021 and has 20 adult beds and 12 geriatric beds. Currently, all the inpatient general medical surgical beds in the main hospital are being renovated. The dual-occupancy rooms will become private rooms equipped with a new HVAC filtration system purchased through Healthway Family of Brands, that will greatly improve the indoor air quality within the rooms. In addition, Indigo-Clean, a new light technology, will be installed in each patient bathroom to continuously disinfect the surfaces within the bathroom area. Indigo-Clean technology is known to reduce pathogens by nearly 99%, creating a greatly reduced chance of hospital acquired infection and better patient outcome.

Once completed, the 44 inpatient beds will have a hotel feel. The project is estimated to be complete by the end of 2021 at a cost of $8 million.

Fulton is an area of strategic growth for Oswego Health. The health system has been expanding its presence in the community, recently completing a $500,000 renovation to their Fulton North location, which will provide Primary Care services for the community. Oswego Health recently added tomosynthesis, which is 3D imaging for mammograms to the Fulton site. System wide, Oswego Health has state-of-the-art equipment, including robotics for orthopedic surgery.


Harlovic has put together a compassionate, approachable, and accountable senior leadership team. Harlovic looks for individuals that are self-starters and work collaboratively. The senior leadership team sets strategic organizational goals and utilizes defined metrics as part of the Oswego Health “blueprint for success” which includes the pillars of Quality, Strategic Growth, Finance, Service, and People.

“Quality is our core service, we do needs assessments to identify what service lines we need to provide for our community,” Harlovic says. Because of the high diabetes rates in the community, Oswego Health opened the Center for Wound Healing four years ago. When they learned residents were traveling out of the area for orthopedic care, Oswego Health responded by opening the Center for Orthopedic Care. Oswego Health also opened a Center for Weight Loss and Surgery. “You can get the same great care locally and you don’t have to travel,” Harlovic says.

Strategic Growth
“To stay viable, you have to grow your organization and invest from a capital perspective and a service line perspective,” Harlovic says. Without enough primary care providers, residents were leaving to seek care. Building up this network in Oswego County translates into more business for Oswego Health specialists. Oswego Health established Physician Care, P.C. and acquired Oswego Family Physicians to facilitate growth and keep care local.

As a nonprofit healthcare system, Harlovic says the senior leadership team has worked hard to improve their revenue cycle, made the workforce more efficient, worked with insurance companies on contracts, reduced the timeline for patient stays, and controlled the cost of pharmaceuticals. “The saying goes no profit, no mission,” says Harlovic, “we are all fiduciary stewards.” Setting financial goals and being metrics-driven is important to ensuring Oswego Health stays profitable.

“We are a service-oriented culture from the time you walk in the door. Communication is key,” says Harlovic. Offering free valet parking at the main hospital and training employees to help visitors with directions, introduce themselves, and explain care to patients is how Oswego Health does business. “Not only is service important when people are seeking healthcare, but it’s also a really good business model. If people have a good experience here, they will tell others and are likely to return,” Harlovic says.


Employees are Oswego Health’s number one asset and Harlovic makes it a priority to connect frequently with his 1,200 employees. “You have to engage with one another,” Harlovic says, “it is about being visible and knowing people’s names.” He holds a daily debrief with department leaders throughout the health system, meets with the senior leadership team weekly and welcomes all new employees as part of their first day orientation. Harlovic believes in a classic open-door policy and in non-pandemic times travels to all campuses to meet with employees face-to-face. During COVID, he started virtual CEO Talks which are broadcast system-wide so he can keep employees connected. Between holiday gatherings, summer outings, and staff recognition throughout the year, Harlovic says you must “do your best to connect.”


Harlovic calls Oswego Health a “destination workplace: a place where people want to work, doctors want to practice, and patients want to go for care.” About 80% of Oswego Health employees also live in Oswego, so at any time, the hospital is likely caring for an employee’s family member or friend. It is important to Harlovic that his employees are compassionate and that there is a family feel when dealing with patients, all while delivering high-quality clinical services. “We are a very traditional community hospital. It’s a wonderful place,” says Harlovic.


The year 2020 was difficult for healthcare workers, but Harlovic says being recognized helped morale. Oswego Health received the Greater Oswego Fulton Chamber of Commerce Community Investor Award for improving the community through local testing and admitting COVID patients, as well as being ranked #1 in the state for administering COVID vaccinations. Oswego Health was recognized as a Healthcare Hero by CenterState CEO for their performance during the pandemic. Jamie Leszczynski, Senior Director of Communications for Oswego Health says, “Before the pandemic, Oswego Health was already a community partner and collaborator. With the pandemic, that became even more evident. We became a leader, we stood out and stood strong. Those relationships and collaboration with our partners are something we will continue to strengthen as we go forward. When minutes matter, we have the technology and services to help our local families. We are looking to support our partners and this community however we can.”

Right Price Companies / RPC Technology; Role Models For Their Community In The Heart of Syracuse

By: Sarah Hall

Darin Price, CEO (sitting), Paris Price, CFO (Standing) at their Syracuse, NY office.

RPC Technology company climber repairing an antenna in Hartsdale, NY.

Darin and Paris Price in their laydown yard

Darin and Paris Price are looking to create a legacy.

The Syracuse couple, who owns Right Price Companies and RPC Technology, hope to hand their business down to their children someday.

“We want Right Price to be in existence well after we’re gone,” Darin said. “We want it to be a company that is a pillar in Upstate New York for years to come.”

The Prices launched Right Price Companies in 2004. The firm provides commercial furniture to the corporate, education, healthcare, and government sectors. RPC Technology, which launched about seven years ago, made its mark in the industry participating in New York State’s New York State Broadband for All program as a value-added supplier, as well as a logistics material coordinator. The program seeks to bring broadband internet to underserved or unserved areas, where nearly one million New Yorkers, mostly in rural areas, do not have an internet connection (based upon 25/3 bandwidth connection).

Darin maintains that Right Price Companies’ primary goal is to provide solutions and excellent service to its customers.

“Our desire to provide superior service for our customer is what prompted our pivot into the technology industry,” he said. “While working with a client to provide both furniture and a paneling system, the client asked if we could also handle his computer networking and set-up. At the time, our company had a relationship with RMS, a technology service and solutions company, and together, we were able to deliver a complete solution exceeding our customer’s expectation.”

“It went so well that I had an ‘aha moment,’” Darin said. “Our customers need a total solution. That was the birth of RPC Technology.”

Right Price and RMS merged and began working in the industry, bidding on and winning projects. SUNY Oneonta was its first substantial contract with fiber optic cable.

‘This project allowed us to see technology as our next business frontier,” Darin said. RPC Technology strategy began planning to participate in the NYS Broadband for All prior to the announcement of grant awards. The program launched in 2016 with three phases of grant awards to telecom and cable service operators and providers, as well as municipalities, throughout the state over the next three years.

“As one of the few certified minority suppliers of fiber optic cable in the area, RPC became a key supplier of fiberoptic cable to cable service provider in Upstate New York that participated in the broadband program, addressing a vital need in Upstate New York.” Darin said.

“When we think about the personal aspect of high-speed broadband, we have to understand that the program allowed for a higher level of connectivity to the rural areas of New York State, especially now, because computer access is more important than ever before,” Paris said.

“It’s so desperately needed for our children to learn remotely, for hospitals, businesses, not to mention your home. Not only did we see the benefits for our business, but we recognized the desperate need for the opportunity of expansion of fiber optic cable throughout New York State, especially its rural territories that had some level of access.”


Ultimately, the Prices said they are looking to be a full-service wholesale electrical supply distributor as well as an outside plant construction company. This aspect includes fiber cable deployment, antennae/line installation, and maintenance in relation to cell towers.

“As alumni of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program, we have a very clear vision for our future growth,” Darin said.

The Prices also emphasized that RPC is one of the only minority-owned companies in the field. They are certified with New York State and New York City as a Woman/Minority Business Enterprise, as well as the New York Port Authority and the Mass Transit Authority. They are also registered with the National Supplier Development Council as a Minority Business Enterprise and the federal government as a Small Disadvantaged Business.

“We are a company that wants to work with everyone. We are a corporation first that just happens to be owned by a minority,” Darin said. “We’re not a minority first when we walk through the door. We build our reputation on the service and on our products.”
There are some, however, who balk at the MBE label.

“Some people have the stereotypes—the preconceived notions—that because you’re a minority business or a woman-owned business, that there’s going to be something different, they have to do; something different to deal with us,” Darin said. “We go through the many steps of certification to get into the door, to get a fair look-see at a project. Unfortunately, these same old stereotypes never seem to die.”

In reality, being an MBE just means that RPC is looking to make a relatively homogeneous field a little less so.

“RPC is an equal opportunity employer. We hire diverse candidates to go into an industry where there’s not a lot of diversity,” Darin said. “It is our responsibility to give our people a fair opportunity at these jobs.”

As a minority business, RPC is also focused on workforce development and hiring.

“We have a relationship with SUNY EOC, Jubilee Homes, and CNY Works,” Darin said.

In particular, Darin and Paris’ goal is to bring in talented candidates from their neighborhood.

“We intentionally created our business in the heart of Syracuse,” Paris said. “One of our personal goals is to be role models for those in our community, the community that both Darin and I grew up in. It was very important for us to be able to let our community see a business prosper and to let them see themselves in it. They see business owners and people working that look like them.”

RPC is the culmination of Darin’s aspiration to start his own business, something he dreamed about way back when he was mowing lawns as a kid—and told Paris about it back when they started dating in the early 1980s.

“He always came to me with the idea that one day, he would be self-employed,” Paris said. “For a while, I didn’t understand the benefits of being the boss. But I definitely understand the benefits of it now. We are able to have a pride in ownership that, had he not been persistent about reaching his lifelong goal of being self-employed and owning our own business, we would not have the experience today.”

While there have been challenges, Darin said he would not change a thing.

“My worst day being self-employed doesn’t compare to my best day working for someone else,” he said. “[There’s a] sense of accomplishment and knowing that you started a business from the ground up and seeing how it has blossomed into something that is a legacy builder that you can then give to your children. Your children’s children can see the spirit of entrepreneurship within your family, which really encourages your children to do the same thing.”

What Keeps You Up At Night?

By: Pierre Morrisseau, CEO, OneGroup

I’m not talking about the noisy neighbor next door or that loud car that seems to rumble by as soon as you drift off to sleep. I’m referencing the kinds of things that could set companies back on their heels, or worse, damage companies beyond repair.

Like you, I am aware of the many things that can potentially be a danger to our success and growth. At the macro level, political, economic, environmental, technological, and other forces demand our best forward-looking attention and planning. Yet it is most often one of the many everyday functions of business that pop up and bite us.

Running any size business is complex and risky. A decision-maker’s attention is drawn in seemingly hundreds of directions. I remind our employees that we cannot think in terms of the products we offer, but instead on how we can help our clients with their short- and long-term priorities.

I was recently consumed with rolling out new technology that would streamline our operations and allow us to dramatically increase our time and focus on our clients. During this project, a salesperson cold-called me. He worked hard to pitch me on his product even though it was not aligned with my current needs or focus. He was unwilling to listen to my needs. I’m sure he is a fine individual, but his solution was not on my radar screen. It was not relevant to what I was dealing with that was keeping me up at night. This interaction led me to further evaluate how OneGroup approaches the sales process, and how important it is to put the client’s true needs first.

I spend a lot of time with our sales team, consultants and service teams educating them on The OneGroup Way—our focus on helping clients and individuals with what’s stressing them regardless of whether OneGroup has an immediate solution. We may still be able to help them, for example, by making useful connections. More importantly, if we take the time to understand and discuss their real issues, we can often times have opportunities to help improve their personal and business outcomes.

Had the young salesperson taken a few minutes to listen to what my immediate focus was on, he may well have been able to build a case that his product or service was part of the solution, or perhaps could have recommended another company to assist. Either way, he would have gained my attention and appreciation.

As we enter a second year of unprecedented challenges and risk, I believe it is more important than ever to listen to those around us—loved ones, employees, friends, clients—and to understand what they are stressed about. We should not assume. We should be quick to listen and offer our help. I truly believe that this behavior makes us stronger and is actually better for our bottom line by strengthening our collective relationships and trust.

A recent Harvard Business Review article stated that as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses are now torn between “generating sales and respecting the threats to life and livelihood… .” I firmly believe that by shifting our attention from selling to helping, we are far more useful to and valued by our customers simply because we are demonstrating respect and caring.

As business leaders continue to deal with many things that keep us up at night, we would be wise to understand that our peers are also struggling on many fronts. We would be wise to offer our help in any way, not just with our specific products and services.

Bright Future Ahead for Construction Industry As We Learn to Live with COVID-19

By: Earl Hall, Executive Director, Syracuse Builders Exchange

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the construction industry and the skilled crafts men and women who continued to work have been deemed a key component of New York State’s essential workforce. Contractors and their employees, while not immune from contracting or spreading COVID-19, have been able to complete vital projects, while limiting the spread of COVID-19 by following the latest health and safety recommendations from the New York State Health Department, New York State HERO Act, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Unfortunately, with the rise of COVID-19 variants, such as Delta, the construction industry is now subject to some of the same rules and regulations from 2020. Construction industry leaders believe that responding to the COVID-19 virus is of critical importance for the health and safety of construction workers throughout New York State, their families, and communities.

As a result, most industry leaders remain committed to encouraging all construction workers to get vaccinated unless there are underlying circumstances that would not permit one to receive the vaccine. Many believe a vaccinated workforce is vital protection for the employee and their fellow workers. A vaccinated workforce is also important for the industry and the contractors who have contracts in place to perform for a General Contractor or project owner.

Penalties for non-performance or an untimely completion of a scope of work is real and can be devastating to any business owner who failed to anticipate labor issues on a particular project.

On September 9, 2021, OSHA announced that it is developing a new workplace safety rule through an Emergency Temporary Standard. This new OSHA requirement covers all employers with federal contracts, as well as those employers with more than 100 employees. Covered employers will have to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work. Additionally, many project owners, both public and private, are mandating all contractors and employees performing work on their site must be fully vaccinated or produce a negative COVID test result. These requirements are mandatory for all employers regardless of the number of employees employed.

At a time where there remains a significant labor shortage, losing valuable employees from an employer’s workforce due to some or many employees choosing to not being vaccinated poses unimaginable challenges for construction industry employers. Without workforce compliance, construction industry employees will miss out on valuable work hours, while many employers may choose not to bid projects for fear of not being able to supply the appropriate work force to complete the project on time.

It is anticipated the industry will have a significant increase in building and infrastructure work over the next 5-7 years, in particular upstate New York. This construction work is expected to last for many years, but to bid on and secure these projects will require that all associated with the employer meet the OSHA, New York State and/or project owner rules for mandated vaccination or weekly testing. To ignore these rules means losing out on the billions of dollars in future projects and job opportunities. Additionally, ignoring such requirements exposes construction contractors to increased pressure to supply skilled labor to their projects, thus potentially jeopardizing the long-term viability of an employer.

While respecting personal opinions of whether vaccines should be mandated as a condition of employment, one being vaccinated addresses a government identified safety issue for employees and their coworkers while not limiting potential employment opportunities. And, equally as important, not causing undue pressure on employers who may not be able to supply enough skilled labor during an historic labor shortage era.

This is the new reality during the COVID-19 pandemic – governmental and project owner mandates on employees, all while employers endure a labor shortage crisis. The industry cannot afford to lose any more employees from the workforce for any reason.

Contractors rely upon a skilled and available work force. Each employee leaving the construction workforce poses great risks to contractors and project owners alike.

In the end, the COVID-19 vaccine will be the antidote that will attack a pandemic which has limited our freedoms, and may threaten our future. Regardless of where one’s position is on vaccine mandates, personal freedoms, freedom of choice, etc., construction industry leaders must address this issue as an unvaccinated workforce impacts more than just the unvaccinated employee. It impacts others on the job site and the very contractors who employ them.

During an unprecedented era of significant labor shortages in the construction industry, employers today cannot afford to lose employees from their workforce. The project owners and governmental mandates may get more demanding over the next few months before such may be relaxed in 2022. While learning to live with COVID-19 in our day to day lives will someday be the new norm, it is evident project owners and government officials today are not ready to address this. Lovell Safety Management Co., LLC logo

Planning For A New Future

By: Robert J. Corona DO, MBA, CEO, Upstate University Hospital

Before COVID changed everyone’s lives, I had a series of meetings with our hospital officers on the future of our hospital. Anchored by our strategic pillars,the conversation was open and wide ranging.

As we assess our progress, we learned that our pre-COVID ideas were viable and most were able to begin the path to implementation. We also saw how the plans were being reshaped — in real time — both by the current situation and by the ability of staff to be flexible and intuitive to create innovations. The pandemic proved to an accelerant to new ideas, rather than a state that put the brakes on.

I picked four examples that show creating the future can happen while we are still addressing the needs of today.

Telemedicine had been quietly incubated at Upstate for more than 20 years, surged in importance. Our telehealth visits went up by an astonishing 60,000 percent in the first two weeks. The capability had been proven and was now succeeding on a faster timeframe than we originally dreamed. Now, our goals have moved forward to making the experience more seamless via technology, where patients can click into their medical record to have their visit. We can also offer telemedicine visits a first option, where people are limited by work, distance, or physical constraints. What was planned to emerge over several years for telehealth, is being accomplished in several months.

Another area that has accelerated is our use of robotics. Our hospital runs lab tests for patients 24/7 and is currently served by a system of pneumatic tubes that shuttle tests samples quickly. As our campus footprint for testing sites has expanded, the idea of a fleet of drones that could convey samples and urgent tests was proposed. With the pandemic, the needs for tests surged to record levels. The idea of drones to help speed the needs became a reality and we received the first ever waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly over populated areas and deliver medical supplies. Now we are looking at a different type of robotics that will alleviate routine tasks and allow nurses and other caregivers to work at the top of their license.

Bricks and mortar are always part of future plans, but with COVID we made changes in the ideas of where patients could be treated and what could help us be more efficient in our physical space. Telemedicine was part of home care, but we are expanding this idea to further levels, exploring the use of wearables and other at-home diagnostic equipment for care that does not require the stress of hospital admission. In physical space, we also created pop-up clinics and testing sites to see patients quickly and keep them from unnecessary emergency room visits.

A teaching hospital like ours is by nature a high-tech place. All our pre-pandemic ideas have been enhanced by a focus on a high reliability approach to surges. We now have even more advanced software systems in place to pinpoint how patients, people and PPE move through our system. We also worked with Microsofton chat bots that initially handled thousands of inquiries from the community and are now used to quickly pre-screen employees for COVID, and developed new dashboards that provide immediate summaries for our new reality.

The future was not put on hold as we battled what was right before us; it was evolving beside us right along.

Robert J. Corona DO, MBA, is CEO of Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, NY and is the John B. Henry Professor and Senior Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs in the College of Medicine.  Previous roles at Upstate include Chief Innovation Officer and Associate Dean for Industry and Academic Relations, and the endowed chair for the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He also served for many years as chief medical officer and vice president of Medical and Scientific Affairs at Welch Allyn Inc. 

State of Manufacturing- A Case Study

By: James A. D’Agostino, CEO, MEP Center Director

As we turn the page from Summer and head into the closing months of 2021, I wanted to share some hope for 2022 and beyond. In the Summer 2021 edition of this magazine, I wrote about the many challenges facing manufacturers, including the ongoing pandemic, fractured supply chains, workforce retention and recruitment, and outdated manufacturing technologies. But I also highlighted the various opportunities facing these same manufacturers, including reshoring, employee wellness programs, innovation, and technological investments. I am here today to write about one particularly progressive company that heeded the many external warnings and worked alongside my company to make the necessary changes and investments to their processes and overall organizational culture.
Company Profile

Oneida Air Systems (OAS) was founded in 1993 in a garage on Oneida Lake in New York. From their humble beginnings, OAS sought to provide industrial-grade dust collection products and technology to smaller wood working operations. Since then, they have dedicated themselves to the innovative design of high-quality dust collection systems that help create a safe, healthy, and practical workplace environment in various applications including woodworking, concrete finishing, and many others. They are world renowned, industry leaders in workshop hygiene and dust collection, and they strive to provide quality US jobs, excellent working conditions, and benefits for the people they employ.


OAS had been pursuing lean manufacturing for over 10 years. Whereas they had realized some improvements, they were not to the extent required to ensure their future as the dominant dust collection system provider in the world. OAS’ Research and Development team regularly created the most innovative dust collection solutions in the world, but their products were being copied by competition at a faster rate than they had ever seen before. OAS needed to establish operational excellence and rapid order fulfillment as a new competitive advantage in the midst of numerous external obstacles. OAS initially decided to focus their improvement efforts on a value stream for an innovative new product. The technological advantages of the new product design were expected to result in more sales volume than the product it was replacing. At the same time, foreign competitors were warehousing their products in the United States and offering faster delivery, so decreasing their overall lead-time was critical even with the expanding sales volume.


TDO was approached to provide expert mentoring for OAS’ lean journey. The philosophy behind lean manufacturing is to drive and sustain continuous improvements through the elimination of waste. However, many lean manufacturing efforts result in backsliding after achieving incremental gains, even with the adoption and implementation of the right processes and lean tools. Rather than pursue tool-based lean manufacturing approaches, TDO recommended that OAS focus on practicing Toyota Kata. Toyota Kata is a systematic approach for developing and sustaining daily continuous improvement efforts, and it introduces different necessary skills and lean manufacturing tools only as they are needed. Toyota Kata inherently seeks to change the way workers solve problems by creating scientific thinkers.

TDO facilitated a Value Stream Mapping kaizen event to ensure that the current state and future state challenges were well understood. After an initial introduction to Toyota Kata, TDO took on the role of “coach”.

TDO continued to coach 2-3 mornings per week until OAS personnel became proficient at striving to new levels of performance using the “Improvement Kata“ pattern and scientific thinking. TDO then shifted their coaching focus to develop OAS’ internal coaching capability so that they could spread daily continuous improvement throughout their organization. Since its initial inception, Toyota Kata has now been practiced in fabrication, assembly, shipping, purchasing, and inside sales departments, as well as strategically at the Operations Management level. TDO is currently providing assistance with product design for manufacturability and layout for a new production line.


OAS developed the knowledge and capability to build and ship product faster than foreign competition could ship their lower-performing products from US warehouses. The lead-time to deliver their focus product was reduced by an average of 70% with regular intervals of 85% reduction. In addition, common wastes associated with hidden factory transactions and transportation were reduced along with front-end process error rates that could cause shipment delays and customer complaints, and labor content for the new product was significantly decreased. Practicing Toyota Kata helped OAS develop the flexibility and scientific thinking that continues to allow them to navigate the myriad obstacles from the pandemic through rapid experimentation. Since the adoption of Toyota Kata, OAS has had consistent increasing sales volume and growth year over year.


The next several months will continue to define the future for many manufacturers. I know that most were hoping that recent issues with fractured supply chains, workforce challenges, technology, and innovation would have subsided by now. However, as OAS was able to emphatically prove, I continue to be confident that those businesses who do invest in their people, processes, equipment, and reshoring will not only experience personal success, but they will also lend a hand to this country’s ongoing post-pandemic renaissance.

For more information on how TDO can help you capitalize on key strategic opportunities to move your manufacturing processes forward, please contact: James A. D’Agostino; (315) 425-5144, Ext. 306;;  or visit online at

Mike Humphrey, CEO, Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists (SOS) ; The Right Man for the Right Job at the Right Time

By: Martha Conway

Mike Humphrey, CEO, Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists

Mike Humphrey, CEO, Pamela Hilliar, Director of Customer Service and Patient Access, Jessica Woodruff (standing), CFO, Kim Murray, CCO

Mike Humphrey, CEO confers with Kim Murray, CCO

From Humble Beginnings

In the late 1990s, several individual orthopedic surgeons in the Syracuse area began seeking an opportunity to provide great quality patient care while expanding orthopedic services to the community, but not increasing overhead and administrative costs. After much dialog they decided combining their talents and resources would allow them to provide patients the best medical technology and facilities for care.

It was then that Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists was born.

Dr. Stephen Bogosian, a joint replacement specialist and founding physician of SOS, recalls that the practice originally had some growing pains. “A couple of physicians left around the time we formed the practice, and it was difficult in the beginning, with increased stress involved in the expansion,” he recalls, adding that the newly formed business needed a deft hand to guide its future.

The practice found that Michael Humphrey, was the right man for the right job at the right time, joining the team in 2004 as chief executive officer. “Mike was pivotal during SOS’ early days,” Bogosian said. “The founding surgeons had a framework, but not exactly the right staff. His unique skill set was a great addition for us. He has a good knowledge of the business of healthcare, an organizational sense and analytical mind ideal for the position.” Putting a non-surgical CEO at the helm allowed the surgeons to focus on quality patient care while ensuring the practice was successful.

“Mike has great relationships with everyone at SOS,” Bogosian adds. “He’s quiet but talks when something needs to be said. We are a big team with many personalities and Mike is strong in both group and one-on-one conversations, making sure everyone is heard. Orthopedic surgeons are a competitive bunch and he’s quite adept at working with us all!”

Bogosian credits Humphrey with leading SOS’ growth over nearly two decades. “He has an excellent knowledge of operations and has surrounded himself with top-notch administrators and managers. Mike has proven to be a great CEO for us – building a community organization, recruiting excellent surgical talent to central New York, and most recently, he navigated us through the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Taking the Lead

Humphrey was born and raised in Utica, NY, and earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting at Utica College of Syracuse University. He also earned his CPA and joined a public accounting firm in Syracuse, specializing in healthcare with hospital and nursing home clients. “I have always been intrigued by healthcare,” Humphrey comments. “It is ever-changing and ever-present.” 

During long stints in the finance department at both Crouse Health and St. Joseph’s Health, Humphrey learned the ins and outs of healthcare operations and honed his financial acumen. While getting to know many SOS physicians and staff during his tenure at St. Joseph’s he simultaneously observed how strong leadership that supports medical practitioners greatly benefits patients. Then SOS had an opening for a CEO.

“Working within large hospitals which are multi-faceted organizations with a variety of personalities and professionals, I learned the importance of teamwork and especially of employee satisfaction,” Humphrey said. “It is critical in a healthcare setting to support the people caring for others. It really can impact patient satisfaction.”

Chief Clinical Officer Kimberley Murray was a longtime St. Joseph’s employee who worked in a variety of capacities there before joining SOS seven years ago. At St. Joseph’s, she worked with Humphrey and SOS’s orthopedic surgeons across subspecialties, so it was a smooth transition to SOS. “I had already worked with Mike and the surgeons,” Murray said. “I felt very welcomed here.”

Murray said Humphrey is a warm, personable, fun-loving kind of guy. “I was very fortunate to come work directly for him,” she said. “He’s running a multi-million-dollar company as if it’s a small business. He has an open-door policy and knows employees by name. He eats lunch with them, jokes around and talks sports.” She also adds that Humphrey is extraordinarily family-oriented and that carries through to how he manages employees and the practice. “Family comes first,” she says.

Humphrey, along with other key staff members at SOS, instituted the SOS CARES initiative which outlines the practice’s commitment to care which is practiced from the top-level down throughout the entire organization. Every employee is primed to exhibit compassion, accountability, respect, excellence, and service in whatever function they perform. Humphrey knows that such an initiative will only be successful if an organization’s leaders embrace it. “You have to show up, show dedication and foster an environment of family, open communication and celebration of work successes,” he said.

Humphrey said it is humbling to consider how many employees and how many types of employees it takes to do what SOS sets out to do. “They are the core of what we do – from schedulers, nurses and x-ray technicians to billing, insurance and surgeons – all of them face different challenges and are a part of the many components necessary to successfully provide first-class orthopedic care,” he said. “Physical therapy also is a big component, a service we added seven years ago – that added nearly 100 more employees – and now they are an integral part of the team providing the next level of care.”

“We focus on customer service and patient experience, and Mike always wants to know what more patients want and need,” Murray said. By objective measurements, SOS has thrived under the SOS CARES philosophy. It was named a 2020 Best Places to Work by the CNY Business Journal and in 2015 it was given a Best Companies to Work for in New York State Award, which is a partnership of NYS-SHRM, The Business Council of New York, Best Companies Group and Journal Multimedia Corporation. Additionally, during the period between January 2019 – May 2021, SOS earned a 4.84 out of 5 score in overall patient satisfaction.

“I like to know at the end of the day that I made a difference to someone or contributed to an important aspect of some process,” Humphrey said, explaining he tries to include people to define outcomes and change things to drive or adjust what SOS is reaching for. “Inclusion is vital to controlling costs. Our culture is not one of looking over your shoulder. We use positive reinforcement of achievements, provide feedback as we move forward and examine important processes and procedures to achieve goals.”

Humphrey said it’s important to learn to work with a diverse group of people, respect their skills and experiences. “Different organizations need different things, but working hard and leading by example are key,” Humphrey said. “It shows staff you are there and willing to put in the time and effort; others will follow suit.”

Among Humphrey’s goals have been making SOS a better place to serve patients while helping physicians meet their goals.

Dr. Michael Fitzgerald, a surgeon specializing in hand and wrist care, joined SOS in 2016. He and his wife being from New York, he looked for a practice in upstate New York. “I’ve been here five years now, and it’s been a great experience,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s a great company to work for and great people to work with. Mike was the first to reach out when I interviewed. He gave me a tour and showed me the great aspects of coming here.”

Fitzgerald said Humphrey is integral in keeping staff and the business on track. “I wanted to learn how the business runs,” he said. “They don’t teach you that in med school. From the public-facing staff to the physicians, Mike incorporates best practices and makes sure employees know they are important members of the team.”

Fitzgerald said Humphrey’s understanding of all points of view, making sure the ship is heading to its destination and his management helps uphold SOS’s ideals. “Any field where there are a lot of physicians in one group is going to be difficult to manage because there are a lot of personalities,” he said. “Mike knows all current aspects of SOS, and he’s always one or two steps ahead, so he’s never playing catch-up. He’s always ready for the next hurdle.”  

Fitzgerald also admires Humphrey’s focus on people. “Money is not the primary goal: Patients and the community are. SOS is a great orthopedic practice because positive patient outcomes are our primary goal. Mike’s management style is to be on top of keeping in touch with subspecialties and all areas, not just physicians.”

“To be successful in this position, you have to know the medical side and business side,” Fitzgerald said. “Mike gets both and understands his people, helps us achieve goals, makes sure all sides communicate well to meet objectives. He’s able to see how numbers relate to the work being done in real life situations.”

Humphrey aims to solidify SOS as the industry standard for private orthopedic practice in the country and bring talented, top-notch physicians to the practice. “We’ve had much success recruiting gifted young physicians,” he said. Since he joined SOS, 13 new surgeons have joined the practice. Although there is a wealth of talent from Upstate Medical University, SOS has gained a national reputation as a desired orthopedic practice to work, and some physicians joined the practice having no former ties to central New York.

Navigating Unsteady Waters

Murray and Fitzgerald talked about how tough things were during COVID when elective surgeries were stopped. “I think with the 18 months we just went through, we’re all humbled and grateful to have Mike at the helm. He enabled us to continue to treat patients and serve the community,” remarked Fitzgerald. “He made sure the ship remained focused on its destination and his management helped uphold SOS’s ideals. His leadership through COVID helped us take care of patients and ourselves.”

“He was a real cheerleader during that time,” Murray said. “He said it was a temporary blip on the radar, and that we were going to get through it as a family.” As the pandemic emerged in 2020, SOS quickly had to transition its operations to reflect public health needs and requirements. Elective surgeries were postponed, resources diverted to the medical centers caring for Covid patients, and many employees became remote workers.

Murray likened Humphrey to a seasoned soldier. “If you were surrounded in combat, he’ll always find a way out…like COVID. We are pretty much back to where we were pre-COVID, thanks to his leadership.”

Commitment to Community

From the start, Bogosian said SOS has been committed to the community. Through volunteerism, board service, and financial contributions, individuals at SOS and the organization as a whole continue working to meet the needs of and reflect the diversity of the community. SOS has built strong relationships with local schools, sports organizations, not-for-profits, and other humanitarian projects. The group is proud of its affiliation with Operation Walk New York, the United Way of CNY, the MOST, and many other civic groups.

Personally, Humphrey has served four years on the board of directors for On Point for College, a program that helps underserved populations achieve their higher education goals. This year he is chairman of the development board and is coordinating a golf tournament for the initiative in honor of his parents, both dedicated educators.


Recognizing that surgeons needed the full support of a strong organization, Humphrey helped build an outstanding practice that encompasses surgeons and a wide array of other orthopedic services and totals about 700 staff, up from only 300 when he joined.

“We have a one-day surgery center, multiple office locations, and orthopedic and sports therapy. Humphrey said. “We are more than just an ortho office; we are a network.” The network also includes SOS Plus, an after-hours orthopedic clinic, the SOS Shop providing products that boost orthopedic health, medical imaging, and even clinical research.

Additionally, in 2007, SOS and the New York Spine & Wellness Center, (NYS&WC), the leading provider of pain management services in central New York, agreed to a contractual arrangement which allows Humphrey and other key managers to provide oversight and management services. The SOS team works with NYS&WC‘s talented and committed physicians and their clinical management team to create a model and culture in their practice similar to SOS. “This integration of care and sharing of knowledge and best practices has allowed both practices to grow and to enhance the level of care provided to the patients they serve,” comments Humphrey.

Key to the success of the SOS network is engaging patients in their orthopedic care. “Patient experience is paramount at SOS, and staff try to be open and amiable, with a lot of patients being seen over a span of time. It’s a professional atmosphere, and we explain all diagnostic and treatment options, lots of which are non-operative. Patients are part of the treatment decision-making process; we explain all options and don’t dictate to them. We often see whole families and multiple generations in a family.”

Fitzgerald agrees SOS strives to be the best they can be to meet patients’ expectations. “Pathology can be very different from patient to patient,” Fitzgerald said. “We excel at individualizing treatment to each patient. Everyone’s experience is unique to them. We have a great team dedicated to getting patients back to where they want to be.”

“We believe patients should be well-informed from engagement to discharge,” Murray said, explaining that patient referrals come from urgent care services, hospital emergency departments and primary care physicians. “Patients are given all the information they need from getting to their first appointment through treatment. We make sure we’re accessible in a meaningful way. We answer all medical and insurance questions, field Workers’ Compensation and disability-related issues, and the departments work together to handle any claims.”

Murray said Humphrey has been a power source for SOS. He has been recognized by peers as well, being named the 2017 National Practice Executive of the Year by the American Alliance of Orthopaedic Executives. “There’s no limit to how his mind works,” she said. “His greatest strength is strategy. The rest of us can achieve great outcomes with enthusiasm because of his strategies. He exudes mission, vision, and value, establishing the groundwork for the team to provide exceptional orthopedic care to everyone in central New York, without exception.”

“He’s a robust person in a humble shell,” says Murray.

Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists is central New York’s regional leader in providing quality, total orthopedic care to patients. Founded in 1999, its team of experienced orthopedic physicians and support staff offer state-of-the-art medical care, from diagnosis and treatment to rehabilitation and recovery. SOS has more than 25 physicians and employs approximately 600 additional staff. Its corporate headquarters are in East Syracuse, and it has several locations serving Camillus, Dewitt, Fayetteville, Liverpool, and North Syracuse. Additionally, SOS operates the Specialists’ One-Day Surgery Center in Syracuse; SOS Orthopedic & Sports Therapy with multiple locations; and SOS Plus, an after-hours care center in Dewitt.

For more information on Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists, visit

G.M. Crisalli and Associates, Inc. ; Brings Experience to Healthcare Construction

By Martha E. Conway

Island Health Center, Ithaca NY

Work in progress – American Renal Associates Dialysis Center, Rome NY

Upstate University Hospital, Syracuse NY

Upstate University Hospital, Syracuse NY

G.M. Crisalli and Associates, Inc., started with two people working out of a two-bedroom apartment 32 years ago. Now they have 44 employees working out of their main offices located on Hiawatha Boulevard in Syracuse. The firm generally serves clients from Wisconsin to Maine to Maryland and all states in between.

“We build almost everything except roads and bridges and infrastructure” said owner and President Gary Crisalli, who’s been in the construction business for 45 years. “There’s no type of building construction work that we do not perform.”

From first job to first in the field

Crisalli said he was interested in medical construction early on in his career and was encouraged by a previous business partner in the mid-1980s to bid on a remodel project at SUNY Upstate Medical University Hospital. G.M. Crisalli & Associates, Inc., got the contract in 1990, and the project was completed in 1991. Crisalli successfully bid other projects at Upstate and has done an increasing number of medical facility projects for all major hospitals and many private medical facilities throughout the company’s history.

New builds and renovations have unique considerations, from making sure existing services remain available to local, state and federal restrictions for various types of construction. Essential to successful healthcare-related projects is considering the special working conditions demanded of each worksite, i.e., the type, age and condition of the existing structure and municipal services to the structure; knowing if the area will be kept operational by the medical group; and availability of access and working hours – is this a 24-hour, round-the-clock project? Are there quiet times and peak times of patient service necessary for work crews to consider? Are all team players who will be affected by construction kept in communications to understand the impact on their ongoing operations?

“Less-experienced contractors may not know how to create and work within the restrictions of a protected environment, the impact of air filtration and quality air monitoring and how to successfully manage those things for staff and patient safety and comfort,” Crisalli said. “Everything has to be kept very clean and dust-free, and you have to monitor airflow and air quality. You must be aware of all considerations involved in working in sterile environments. You must have good communication and control of the activities on the jobsite at all times, knowing who is there and what tools and materials are being delivered, installed and used throughout the construction of the project.”

Crisalli says when performing medical work of any kind, the scheduling process must be at the last third of the preconstruction process and extremely thorough – a must, due to the long lead times on specialty materials and equipment needed for projects. Worked into that scheduling are staff and facility requirements during construction and all safety and code issues to be considered before, during and after construction completion.

“We like to have all stakeholders buy into the project schedule prior to project commencement to alleviate delays in the construction process,” he said.

Reputation for quality and integrity

“For the benefit of our clients, we try to bring our vast construction experience and knowledge to the project in order to be the best-trusted partner, liaison and friend before, during and after the project is finished,” Crisalli said. “Our reputation is based in our integrity, in the trust given to us by our many clients and in the accuracy in estimates, schedules, work quality and high level of professionalism. We take our responsibility as construction professionals very seriously. We believe our clients should rely on the professionals building the project and should not have to worry about the construction of a facility that they have hired our company to build for them.”

Crisalli said he employs 18 experienced project superintendents. He stated that one half of the company employees have been with G.M. Crisalli and Associates, Inc., for 10, 20 and even 30 years. Crisalli feels very fortunate to have worked with Associate Rocco “Rocky” Paone for the last 30 years.

“Experienced and dedicated personnel, construction administration, construction procedures, practices and performance, at every milestone along the way, result in the highest-possible quality project,” Crisalli said. “At the end of the process, we want to see our clients satisfied and happy with every aspect of their new facility.”

Crisalli said the firm is always looking to integrate new systems to anticipate clients’ needs and ensure projects are turnkey operations at completion.

“Most of my people have been with us for quite a few years,” Crisalli said, “but we have a few new people, too, helping us do whatever we can to make us a better company. We have our own group of sub-contractors, offer competitive rates and have the capability to adapt and grow – like what was demanded of us working in a pandemic.”

One of those adaptations was the implementation of DocuSign to tame the contracting paper lion.

Client care is Job No. 1

Vice President Rocco “Rocky” Paone handles the marketing and sales and performs the front-ending of projects (the pre-construction functions formerly done under the umbrella of ‘estimating’).

“I also cold-call potential clients and follow up with clients whose projects are complete, as well as work to maintain relationships with a variety of professionals across a diverse field of disciplines,” Paone said.

Medical construction requires a level of cleanliness more than most construction projects, he said, explaining that Crisalli and Associates understand the demands of working in something tantamount to a clean room environment.

“It’s not for everyone,” Paone said. “You can’t just take someone out of residential construction and tell them to go drywall an operating room. There are a specific list of additional ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ in the medical environment, and sometimes they impact patients’ lives and safety. We have to maintain stringent levels of quality control for these projects.”

In addition, the firm pays particular attention to the health of its own employees, making sure they are current with tuberculosis testing and additional health considerations, especially in the era of COVID.

“There are a lot of additional boxes we have to check to work in a medical setting of any kind,” Paone said.

And that medical savvy transfers to other projects requiring those heightened precautions, such as cleanliness and quality concerns.

“But we can build good, old-fashioned buildings, too,” Paone said.

Project in progress

Crisalli and Associates is working on a tenant improvement fit-out for American Renal Associates Dialysis Center in Rome.

“We were competitively bidding the project and added G.M. Crisalli to the bid list based on the strength of their health portfolio and depth of knowledge exhibited by Rocco Paone,” said Marc Eagles of American Renal Management, LLC, Project Management. “Construction projects are always challenging. This project was no different. G.M. Crisalli’s knowledge of the market, construction processes and subcontractor strength helped to make this a successful project.”

Money is a big motivator for clients, and medical clients are particularly cost-conscious, Paone said, wanting to spend their money wisely.

“We work with clients to help them analyze budgets and look at what is really needed versus areas where savings can be safely realized,” Paone said. “If anti-static or anti-microbial flooring is called for, you really can’t compromise a lot there. We try to make clients aware of the trade-offs in these kinds of decisions. We’ve learned how to adapt to these details better than your average contractor and offer customers the pros and cons of every potential alternative and decision as they set up their budgets.

“We care about clients, we care what clients think about us, we care enough to tell the truth, even when the truth hurts. We’re all looking forward to a very rigorous 2021 season as COVID waves its ugly head goodbye and we tackle the projects that were sidelined and those sprouting up as a result.”

“The medical field will grow because of the increasing aging population and new and improving technology,” Crisalli said. “We plan to be at the forefront of that.”

“Without exception, every GM Crisalli employee involved with this project was professional, knowledgeable and easy to work with,” Eagles said. “I would recommend them on their construction acumen, professionalism and competitive pricing.”

Medical project résumé

G.M. Crisalli’s project list includes extensive renovations, constructions and additions at SUNY Upstate Medical University, St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, Van Duyn Home & Hospital, Carthage Area Hospital, Nunn’s Hospital Supply Store, Crouse Hospital, Cayuga Medical Rehabilitation Center, Mohawk Glen and Health & Dental Services Center, among others.

Crisalli and Paone said one of their favorite projects was the Cayuga Medical Rehabilitation Center and Island Health & Fitness Center in Ithaca, a two-and-a-half-year-long project including a design/project buildout of new tenant space and construction management services for a five-story health and fitness center with attached medical facility.

For more information, call 315.454.0000 or visit