Celebrating Ten Years - The Beginning

Ten years ago, a group of central Pennsylvania IT professionals discussed the desire to establish a local HIMSS chapter. The reason was simple; the existing chapters were located in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, which made attending meetings a very long day or an overnight stay.  Several of us felt a local chapter could leverage being near to Harrisburg and establish an advocacy program focused at state-wide issues. A vision proved worthy.

The founding board members were Ron Cowan (President), Ken Bixel (Vice President/Sponsorships), Marie Roof (Secretary), William “Buddy” Gillespie (Program Chair), Edith Dees (Membership), and Vinny Sakores (Treasurer). We quickly added a few more board members: Dr Christine Cavanaugh (Communications Chair), John Kravitz (Advocacy Chair), Mark Stevens (Member-at-Large), and Mark Jacobs (HIE Liaison). These people were responsible for the chapter getting started and they dedicated many volunteer hours to make it happen.

Besides having the good fortune to work with such a talented group of professionals, I was “privileged” to serve as the first chapter president. This was my second time as a chapter president, since I previously served in the Delaware Valley Chapter. The experience helped me craft the bylaws and establish a structure that aligned with HIMSS national.

In May of 2010, formation discussions with the other PA chapters occurred with acceptance by HIMSS National. Paperwork was filed, approval was attained, and the bylaws were signed in June 2010. We filed the articles of incorporation and received our EIN in October. CPAHIMSS became the 50th chapter of HIMSS in the 50th year. We were all smiles, but the real work was about to begin.

Sustainability was the biggest concern, which required funding. In June of 2011 the checking balance was $5,463.34 and by January 2013 the balance was $27,296. The team did remarkable work to grow the treasury and manage the finances. At the same time, they created a website, provided programs, and began the advocacy program.   

Many thanks to the people mentioned, as they spent countless hours getting this chapter started. I was lucky to work with such a dedicated and determined team to accomplish the task. Their vision of what could be was spot on.

Ron Cowan

Ron Cowan is Associate Vice President at Geisinger responsible for IT Compliance, IT Quality, and relationship management at Geisinger Lewistown Hospital and Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital. His professional career in healthcare spans 38 years with 34 years in management. Prior to joining Geisinger, Ron served as the Chief Information Officer/Vice President of Information Management at Lewistown Hospital.

IT has been the cornerstone of his career with various additional responsibilities throughout the years, including: Privacy Officer, Co-chair Patient Satisfaction, grant funding, Health Information Management, Patient Registration, and Print Shop.

Ron attained a Bachelor of Science in management, Master’s in management, and certification in Healthcare Privacy. A member of HIMSS for 23 years, Ron also served as a member of CHIME. He served nine years on Central Pennsylvania HIMSS and Delaware Valley HIMSS chapters serving as president role for both organizations. He also served as HIMSS delegate for the China Healthcare Information Technology Forum held at Beijing in May 2002 and became a HIMSS Fellow in 2006.