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Dr. Schlager, recently elected president of MMA, talks of the importance of leadership in healthcare

Date: 05/17/2018

Robert Schlager, MD, and his wife were looking to embark on a new adventure. After 25 years of private practice family medicine in rural Maryland and 5 years as a Chief Medical Officer, he and his wife left their home of 35 years and began their adventure in Maine.

It was EMHS’ leadership in quality and innovation that initially attracted Dr. Schlager to our system. “I really wanted to see and learn more about its Accountable Care Organization, Beacon Health. Maine has a very good reputation for quality and I’m a strong proponent of quality-driven healthcare,” he added.
Dr. Schlager has not slowed down in his career, despite his family’s move to “Vacationland”. In fact, since his arrival in May 2012, Dr. Schlager assumed the role of vice president and senior physician executive (formally known as chief medical officer) at Sebasticook Valley Health where he oversees organizational quality and safety, expansion of local medical services, and more.
Dr. Schlager’s leadership role recently expanded to a statewide and national reach as the newly elected president of the Maine Medical Association (MMA) in February 2018. “My role as president is to be the spokesperson for the association as a whole, and to promote its mission-driven work.” The mission of the MMA is to promote the health of all Maine citizens, advance the quality of medicine in Maine and support Maine physicians.

The Maine Medical Association is an advocacy group often involved in legislative processes on important issues like opioid addiction, which also align with issues that matter to SVH and EMHS. Dr. Schlager pointed to a specific example of their work, “The MMA along with the Maine Hospital Association, EMHS, and many others, worked to assist the legislature in rewriting Maine’s Opioid Laws, looking at it from the patient as well as provider perspective.  “ It is very important to be engaged and to be an advocate.” said Dr. Schlager.

“He is truly passionate about healthcare and his patients. His innovative approach and dedication to his profession is such an asset to SVH and EMHS. He not only sees but enjoys and demonstrates the real value of team based care.” said Terri Vieira, SVH President and EMHS senior vice president. Dr. Schlager is proud to be a part of the SVH team where the commitment to quality and tight-knit community make the organization a leader in the community. “Everyone in the organization is passionate about patient care and works together for the best outcomes. We have all of the advantages of a small hospital with the backing of a strong system.”

Dr. Schlager will hold his term as MMA president until October, 2019. In that time, he looks forward to advancing the issues that are important to Maine. “Healthcare is changing so rapidly and this is truly a critical time to be an advocate for Maine people.” explained Schlager. There are many ways to get involved in our healthcare professions, and Dr. Schlager encourages everyone to find a way to lead in whatever her/his passion in healthcare is. “We are all the patient experience and have an important voice in how we deliver care. Be involved in determining the direction that your member organization is taking and more importantly, don’t be afraid to step up into a leadership role.”