Showing the way Featured

8:01pm EDT June 30, 2011
Showing the way

Michael D. Means could see the potential that would one day be Health First, even if others around him could not. He had traveled the country and studied how other health care systems went about pursuing consolidation, and Means felt like it could work in Brevard County.

As a result, he merged Holmes Regional Medical Center, where Means served as president, with Cape Canaveral Hospital and Palm Bay Hospital to form the nonprofit health care network.

Once the organization was formed, Means and his team set out to obtain HMO licensing and form a health plan. While many physicians were initially uncertain about the newly formed health care plan, Means was devoted to it and that shone through and brought opponents over to his side.

Means wanted to bring the hospitals together to share resources, cut costs and bring cutting-edge technology and talent to the area for the benefit of the residents of Brevard County. He wanted Health First to be a one-stop shop for all the health care needs of the region. He took the passion that he felt for the community and was able to transfer that energy into Health First.

Another aspect of Health First that has helped the community is the Pro-Health & Fitness Centers that have opened throughout the county and drew 1.38 million visits in 2010. Membership is free for Health First Health Plan members as well as for Health First employees.

In this case, too, Means went against the grain. Fitness centers are often not profitable, but Means and his team recognized the long-term value in promoting overall wellness. The result is fewer services and fewer claims because people stay healthier.

Means remains driven to making Health First an even more valued member of the community. Through his leadership, the company is a leader in contributions and participation in philanthropic efforts.

How to reach: Health First, (321) 434-4300 or www.health-first.org