Fast Track: St. Francis president Daniel Moen likes to compete in amateur sports car races in his spare time. At work he is grounded in providing health care to the community, including the underserved.

Daniel Moen, who became president of St. Francis Medical Center this past spring, is an unlikely race car driver — for one thing, he’s tall.

An eager participant in seven or eight races a year, Moen says he stopped briefly after an incident when he was struck by debris while on the track. But that pause didn’t take. For the past 10 years he has competed in American amateur series sports car races as well as several pro-level events.

“It’s really kind of my escape,” he says of his hobby. “It’s a great way for me to sort of, surprisingly, decompress.”

He displays photographs of his Mazda MX-5 and Miatas on his office walls, which seems incongruous with his crisp executive grooming without a hint of crankcase oil.

Moen says he has spent his professional life in hospitals, staring with his training as an X-ray technician after high school. That was way before he transitioned into hospital administration and eventually entered the orbit of Trinity Health, a national network of 94 nonprofit Catholic hospitals based in Michigan.

In addition St. Francis’ outpost at Chambers Street and Hamilton Avenue in Trenton, other Trinity affiliated hospitals include St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and Lourdes Health System in Willingboro and Camden.

Becoming part of Trinity Health is just the latest chapter of St. Francis hospital’s history. It was founded as Trenton’s first hospital in 1874 by the Sisters of St. Francis in Philadelphia. Mergers were a fact of life in the health care industry even back then and over the years, as the 1800s gave way to the 1900s, regional hospital groups came and went and St. Francis became part of Catholic Health East.

Then in 2013 it became part of Trinity Health, self-described as “one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 21 states with 86 hospitals, 109 continuing care facilities and home health and hospice programs that provide nearly 2.8 million visits annually.”

With annual operating revenue of about $13.6 billion and assets of about $19.3 billion, Trinity Health’s resources suggest a benefit to the community.

So does the organization’s commitment “to those who are poor and underserved in its communities” and “known for its focus on the country’s aging population,” according to its promotional information.

Moen speaks proudly of St. Francis’ specialty in cardiac care. In November of last year, for example, the hospital reported that a St. Francis electro-physiologist implanted a permanent pacemaker into a patient’s heart without the use of fluoroscopy, a sysem that uses radiation to help a physician visualize where to place the leads of a pacemaker. Fluoroscopy is currently the traditional approach. The St. Francis physician, Dr. Eran Zacks, is now able to implant the pacemaker with implant with a minimal use of fluoroscopy.

St, Francis Medical Center also has a strong presence in the community through its participation in the Trenton Health Team — an innovative program involving local hospitals and medical groups that treat people with limited personal resources who use hospital emergency rooms for treatment.

“Our annual operating budget (at St. Francis) is approximately $150 million,” Moen says. “Most of our revenue comes from reimbursement for care provided to patients. We do have a (U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration) Ryan White Grant that supports our HIV services. We have staff committed to community health and well being, including a full time executive director. They are reaching out to the underserved for diabetes care, smoking cessation and obesity.

“We have also participated in the region’s most recent Community Health Needs Assessment and will be working collaboratively with others in the region to address the priority health issues identified in the study.”

Perhaps that is where the adrenaline from racing helps Moen confront the issues of the day, starting with the changes underway in how health care is administered and paid for.

“Everybody is looking at hospitals to be more cost-effective,” he says. One big area for cost-savings, he says, is in prescription drugs. To improve efficiency, St. Francis recently upgraded its electronic record-keeping.

But that cost cutting is not affecting St. Francis’ most important asset — its staff. Trinity Health recently announced that it would increase its minimum wage to $15 across its hospitals starting this month.

“Every St. Francis employee has an important job,” Moen stated in a press release about the wage increase. “Together, we ensure that each patient we serve receives the outstanding care that we are known for. The increase is the right thing to do in showing our employees how much they are valued, and it aligns with our mission of caring for the greater community.”

Of course, the issue that everyone talks about is health care affordability. Moen says he had a “ringside seat’ as health care reform debuted in Massachusetts under former Gov. Mitt Romney.

“I’ve always pushed for better coverage,” he says. “I’m a big believer in preventive care.”

While the medical profession is also seeing a shortage of nurses and physicians, especially in primary care, St. Francis has a well-established school for nurses and a residency program affiliated with Seton Hall University’s School of Health and Medical Sciences.

“It’s nice to be part of the education process,” Moen says, “plus we get to keep a lot of good people.

“Trenton has its challenges, no question about that,” he says. “But we haven’t had anybody say they’d like to work here but not in Trenton.”

Moen says the area served by St. Francis and Trinity Health has a lot going for it.

“The whole mid-Atlantic region is a very attractive area in between New York and Philadelphia,” he says. “Longevity here is amazing. People come here and spend their whole careers here.”

Professional recognition is part of it. There is a “Living Our Values” program where staff members who go out of their way to serve people better are nominated and recognized by their peers.

“Most of it is going above and beyond,” Moen says, “People who make families comfortable or who voluntarily do anything that is necessary in an urgent situation. There are some compelling stories out there.”

Sisters from the St. Francis order in Philadelphia recently visited to help recognize “Living Our Values” honorees.

Moen, 64, has — and maintains — strong New England roots.

One of three boys and three girls, he was born into a family headed by a steelworker father in Worcester, Massachusetts. It was there Moen earned a master’s degree in health administration degree from Clark University/University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. “All my education happened within Worcester’s borders,” he says.

And today, despite having a Trenton presence, he and his wife, Patty, also have a home in New Hampshire.

“Her full-time job is taking care of me,” he jokes. In fact, his wife of 10 years has a background in finance and has worked on a fishing boat and dairy farm, and once owned a Subway franchise.

A lifelong Catholic, the faith-based focus at St. Francis is something that resonates with Moen.

“The Catholic identity goes back decades,” he says. “This is a ministry that has been here for many years. Part of our mission is that everyone gets excellent health care.

“We want to continue to serve the people of Trenton. One of the things I want to do is pay attention to the community and what’s going on outside the walls of the hospital.

And while the cars on the walls in his office are out of the race, Moen’s adrenalin is still high. “I’m still having fun,” he says. “I enjoy coming to the hospital every day.”

St. Francis Medical Center, 601 Hamilton Avenue, Trenton 08629, 609-599-5000. Daniel Moen, president.

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