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Real Estate Bisnow
April 25, 2008



Knox Singleton may have run the region's biggest health care system for the last 24 years, but the CEO of Fairfax's Inova Health Systems has been moonlighting.  Two or three times a year since the early 90's, he's gone to a town of 30,000 in rural Haiti where, working in an area without roads or electricity, he lends his organizing skills in everything from making case cards for operating rooms and setting up water systems to helping start a mango drying business. 


He's going again in April to work more on their exports, the latest being noni-juice, which, despite his Western scientific reservations, he knows is valued as a cure-all for everything from lumbago and flat feet, and best of all commands $56 a quart.  Here he shows a picture of some goat husbandry he's also done-the guy is versatile.  Most important, he orchestrates help from seven or eight medical teams, each with the likes of an orthopedic surgeon, physical therapist, pharmacist, biomedical expert, engineer, and infection control nurse. About one third come from Inova, and may are associated with various NoVa churches.  Knox is quick to note that plenty of other medical personnel volunteer their time in similar causes:  Virginia Hospital Center sends docs to Honduras, Mt. Vernon to Costa Rica, and Loudoun Medical Group to New Orleans.


When Knox started at Inova a quarter century ago, it had 5,000 employees, now it's at 15,000 (and 2000 afiliated physicians); its revenue was $100M, now $2B.  It had three hospitals and 450 beds, now seven hospitals with 2000 beds.  What's he working on?  Inova has a merger pending with Prince William and will be announcing a spinoff of Children's Hospital.  He's also executing on a strategic plan his 21-member board approved in late December:  creating an Inova University for nurses and respiratory therapists; expanding Inova Research Center (for which he recently hired a new chancellor); doubling the size of the VCU School of Medicine Inova campus; and opening a new research center.  Although Inova makes the famed US News list of best practices in a remarkable five areas (heart surgery, digestive disorders, gynecology, endocrinology, and cancer), they'd like to make it in six, which would qualify for the magazine's special Honor Roll.      



From Murphy, NC, a town of 2500 in the Smokeys, Knox notes it's also the hometown of former Redskins QB, now Congressman, Heath Schuler.  Knox went to UNC and Duke Business School (health administration) and got a fellowship to work in the National Health Services of Great Britain as an "Assistant Hospital Secretary" where he was deployed to a quaint facility built in 1790.  In 1975 he started at Hershey Medical Center at Penn State, until being recruited to Inova as COO in 1984.  A year later he became CEO.  When and how he learned about goats and noni-juice is less clear. 

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