Service on Board is a Hirsch Family Tradition

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Frank and Steve Hirsch know a little something about planting a seed and watching it grow and blossom into something much larger.

The members of the family that owns and operates Hirsch Fruit Farm in Chillicothe have been doing that for decades in their business. Frank, however, helped plant a different type of seed in the community that has grown well beyond anything they’ve seen in their orchards, and now Steve is among those charged with caring for its health.

During the 1970s, Frank was serving his term on the Adena Board of Trustees – which included a stint as board president – when the Chillicothe hospital was still located within city limits. Seizing on an opportunity to purchase about 200 acres off Ohio 159 north of the city, that board was responsible for creation of the current Adena Regional Medical Center campus. Beginning with a new hospital, larger emergency department and a medical office building that opened to patients in 1973, the groundwork was laid for a health system that now operates four hospitals and more than 40 locations.

Frank, who said he joined the board at a critical time in Adena’s history, feels the seed planted what will be 50 years ago in 2023 was that board’s biggest accomplishment.

“When the hospital opportunity came along for me, I thought that was something I really ought to get involved with because it’s very important to this community to keep that local hospital going and it was struggling back then,” he said. “It was important to jump in there and see what we could do. I think we eventually did a pretty good job with the move and expansion.”

Frank’s son, Steve, made service on Adena’s board a family affair when he later began a decade-long stint as a community member serving on the board’s human resources committee. Calling it a great learning opportunity that offered a chance to get to know the ins and outs of the health system, he was officially asked to join the board itself a few years ago as an at-large member.

For him, the availability of a local health system whose board members, physicians and employees know, understand and care about the community is crucial.

“Having a local, community-based health system that operates independently is important because patients know the caregivers. Many of them live here, their kids go to school with your kids, they understand the culture and you don’t have to drive an hour or hour-and-a-half to get excellent care,” Steve said.

Steve currently serves as the vice chair of the 15-member Adena Health System Board of Trustees, which is led by chair Jennifer McKell.

The board, Frank said, continues to be the guardian of a commitment to the health of the local community that Adena was founded upon.

“Having a local health system means everything,” he said. “It’s still a community hospital and it’s got local people on the board and if you were to get outside that structure, you would lose a lot of local control and things can get away from you.”

Community service is nothing new to the Hirsch family. Frank’s father was on the board that founded Bishop Flaget School in the early 1960s and was a member of the Ross County Agricultural Society Board for about three decades. Frank has served on numerous boards and in leadership roles tied to agriculture, education and community organizations to go along with 24 years as a Ross County Commissioner. Steve, likewise, has been involved in leadership roles with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Nationwide Insurance Board, Chillicothe Farmer’s Market Board and Bishop Flaget School Advisory Board.

“It began with my grandfather,” Steve said of that commitment to service. “You see his name on a plaque on the wall at Bishop Flaget and my dad was president of the hospital board at one time and the Ross County Farm Bureau and served in leadership positions with other boards, so it was something that was just normal for us – you become involved in those types of organizations. I think it has something to do with how you’re raised and a little bit of it may have been where we went to school, but I think it’s also because we’re a small business and doing those things that help your community also help you. You want to be an integral part of building the community that you’re in, so it continues to flourish and grow.”

That includes the nurturing the fruits of that seed planted so many decades ago.

“I would love for everyone to fully understand what a gem the health system is,” Steve said. “We’re nationally recognized in a number of specialties and for our quality metrics. We have a graduate medical education program – there’s not a lot of hospitals that can say that, and we have that here. We have some of the best employees you’ll find anywhere. In order to get the kind of awards and recognitions we have received, it’s the people who make that happen. That’s what makes me proud to be on the board because we have all of these caregivers who do such a great job.”