Michelle Cunningham might run what could be considered a small-town hospital, but there’s nothing small about her approach to delivering health care to the community. As CEO of Highlands Hospital in Connellsville, she recently led the effort to secure a $1 million state grant to support the conversion of a former elementary school into a multipurpose community health facility that will serve as a women’s health center, an autism school and a multispecialty physical/behavioral health center.
“I’m working to create new programs and services the community needs,” she said. “We want programs that have a positive impact on the community.”
Cunningham has worked her way up at the hospital, starting as manager of dietary and nutrition services.
“Things were running pretty smoothly,” she said. “So I asked my boss if there was anything else you’d like me to do?” That led to the position of support services director in charge of dietary, maintenance, housekeeping and operations. From there she served as chief community officer, learning how to write grants and manage fundraising. She briefly served as COO before becoming CEO in 2000.
Cunningham’s always looking for ways to better provide health care. “For the opioid epidemic, we realized that emergency care and behavioral care were two separate departments,” she said. “The two didn’t intertwine. We realized that bringing the two together would be important for opioid disorder treatment. It’s something our doctors said they wanted us to do.”
TITLE: CEO, Highlands Hospital CAREER: Director of nutrition services, director of support services; chief community officer, Highlands Hospital
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Board, Healthcare Council of Western Pennsylvania; board member, Fay-Penn Economic Development Council
CONTACT: Highlands Hospital, 401 East Murphy Ave., Connellsville, PA 15425; 724-626-2356, firstname.lastname@example.org