2015 Risk All Star: Angeli Mancuso

On a Mission to Revitalize

Angeli Mancuso is a vital cog in the management team at the three hospital, one laboratory Cottage Health system based in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Angeli Mancuso, Manager, Employee Health & Safety, Cottage Health System

Angeli Mancuso, Manager, Employee Health & Safety, Cottage Health System

As manager of the eight-member employee health and safety department, Mancuso has been involved in many major initiatives for the hospital system, but none more important than being a key member of a group that rode to the rescue of a safe patient handling initiative that had begun to stagnate.

Launched with much fanfare in 2009 to reduce serious injuries to employees — especially nurses — involved in the manual lifting, transferring and handling of acutely ill patients, the hospital system was coming off 41 such injuries in 2008.

In the $6 million program’s first year alone, the 41 injuries were reduced to 28 injuries, and then to 17 in 2010. “In 2010, 2011 and 2012, we were in the teens so we weren’t moving,” said Mancuso, who joined the organization in 2011.

“So in 2013, based on recommendations from employee health, including myself, we went to the board of directors and said, ‘This should be on the radar for an organizational goal,’ ” said Mancuso.

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“In 2013, the first year the revitalized program was a top goal of the organization, it was suggested we set our goal at no more than nine preventable injuries, and that year we had only three preventable injuries,” Mancuso said.

So in 2014 the goal was renewed to no more than three preventable injuries. “Unfortunately we had four,” said Mancuso. “This year we’re shooting for no more than four, and we’re at only one so far.”

An important duty for Mancuso is serving as the coordinator of communications throughout the 583-bed organization.

“On a monthly basis I go in front of all of our critical management staff,” said Mancuso. “I give them an update on how we are tracking to our goals, what things we have seen go wrong, what things we have seen going well. I outline where we are struggling with compliance, how we are using equipment or training or things like that.”

“In 2013, the first year the revitalized program was a top goal of the organization, it was suggested we set our goal at no more than nine preventable injuries, and that year we had only three preventable injuries.” — Angeli Mancuso, Manager, Employee Health & Safety, Cottage Health System

Mancuso coordinates all the visits  when Prevent, a consulting group that was instrumental in establishing the safe patient handling program, comes to the hospital group on a quarterly basis.

“I set up all the meetings to make sure Prevent gets in front of the right leadership teams to keep this program in the forefront of people’s vision, to say that this is still a significant issue, that we still have work to do,” said Mancuso.

Prior to joining Cottage Health, Mancuso was the staff nurse in the occupational medicine department at Sansum Clinic, a Santa Barbara-based multidisciplinary, non-hospital based group. In all, Mancuso has been in the occupational safety industry for 10 years.

Encino, Calif.-based Karla Hacker, director of claims for Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc., who works closely with Mancuso, said of her: “I have the opportunity to see the impact Angeli has on the overall Cottage Health program. She took the lead in tackling one of the industry’s most challenging exposures, patient handling injuries. She’s made a profound impact on the quality of life of Cottage Health employees while reducing claims costs.

“While her attention to detail allows her to deliver on day-to-day objectives, she brings a big-picture approach to her role.”

Responsibility Leader

Angeli is also being recognized as a 2015 Responsibility Leader®.

Taking It to the Streets

After a hard week at work making the Cottage Health hospital in Santa Barbara, Calif., safer, Angeli Mancuso takes it to the streets, literally.

As a nurse with the nonprofit Doctors Without Walls, which also goes by the name Santa Barbara Street Medicine, Mancuso visits the public parks in Santa Barbara to offer medical services to the homeless. There are multi-pronged benefits to the work that Mancuso and Doctors Without Walls perform.

One, seeing the disenfranchised in public cuts down on emergency room visits, freeing that service for those who in many cases are in much more urgent need of care.

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Doctors Without Walls does manage chronic wounds in the homeless population, but many times the doctors and nurses in the program are needed to just lend a sympathetic ear. Or to refer someone to another service.

“It’s a lot of talking,” Mancuso said.

The group also brings along students who are interested in a career in medicine to work as scribes and on outreach.

Mancuso also serves with Aeromedicos of Santa Barbara, a nonprofit formed in Santa Barbara decades ago that flies professionals to Baja California in Mexico once a month to staff free medical and dental clinics. The hard-working Mancuso made three trips with that group this year.

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R9-15-15p26_Intro_Allstar4-2.inddRisk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and passion.

See the complete list of 2015 Risk All Stars.

 

Responsibility Leader 2015Responsibility Leaders overcome obstacles by doing the right thing over the easy thing to find practical solutions that benefit their co-workers and community.

Read more about the 2015 Responsibility Leaders.

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R&I Profile

Achieving Balance

XL Catlin’s Denise Balan stays calm and focused when faced with crisis.
By: | January 10, 2018 • 6 min read

In the high-stress scenario of kidnap or ransom, the first image that comes to mind isn’t necessarily a yoga mat — at least, not for most.

But Denise Balan, senior VP and head of U.S. kidnap & ransom, XL Catlin, who practices yoga every day, would swear by it.

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“I looked at these opposing aspects of my life,” she said. “Yoga is about focus, balance, clarity of intent. In a moment of stress, how do you respond? The more clarity and calmness you maintain, the better positioned you are to provide assistance in moments of crisis.

“Nobody wants to be speaking to a frenetic person when either dealing with a dangerous situation or planning for prevention of a situation,” she added.

“There’s a poem by [Rudyard] Kipling on that,” added Balan’s colleague Ben Tucker. “What it boils down to is: If you can remain calm, you can manage through a crisis a lot better.”

Tucker, who works side by side with Balan as head of U.S. terrorism and political violence, XL Catlin, has seen how yoga influences his colleague.

“The way Denise interacts with stakeholders in this process — she is very professional and calm in the approach she takes.”

Yin and Yang

Sometimes seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary and interconnected. In Balan’s life, yoga and K&R have become her yin and yang.

She entered the insurance world after earning a juris doctor degree and practicing law for a few years. The switch came, she said, when Balan realized she wasn’t enjoying her time as a commercial litigator.

Denise Balan, senior VP and head of U.S. kidnap & ransom, XL Catlin

In her new role, she was able to use her legal background to manage litigation at AIG, where her transition from law to insurance took place. She started her insurance career in the environmental sector.

In a chance meeting in 2007, Balan met with crisis management underwriters who told her about kidnap and ransom products.

She was hooked.

Because of her background in yoga, Balan liked the crisis management side of the job. Being able to bring the calmness and clearness of intent she practiced during yoga into assisting clients in planning for crisis management piqued her interest.

She then joined XL Catlin in July 2013, where she built the K&R team.

As she became more immersed in her field, Balan began to notice something: The principles she learned in yoga were the same principles ex-military and ex-law enforcement practiced when called to a K&R-related crisis.

She said, “They have a warrior mentality — focus, purpose, strength and logic — and I would say yoga is quite similar in discipline.”

“K&R responders have a warrior mentality — focus, purpose, strength and logic — and I would say yoga is quite similar in discipline.” — Denise Balan, senior VP and head of U.S. kidnap & ransom, XL Catlin

Many understand yoga to be, in itself, one type of meditation, but yoga actually encompasses a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices. Each is a discipline. Some forms of yoga focus on movement and breathing, others focus on posture and technique. Some yoga is meant to relax the mind and create a sense of calmness; other yoga types make participants sweat.

After having her second child and working full-time, Balan wanted to find something physical and relaxing for herself; a friend suggested yoga. During her first lesson, Balan said she was enamored with it.

“I felt like I’d done it all my life.”

She dove into the philosophy of yoga, adopting the practice into her daily routine. Every morning, whether Balan is in her Long Island home or on a business trip, she pulls out her yoga mat to practice.

“I always travel with my mat,” she said. “Daily practice is the simplest form of connection to routine to maintain my balance — physically and mentally.”

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She said the strangest place she has ever practiced was in Lisbon. She was on a very narrow balcony with a bird feeder swarming with sparrows overhead.

After years of studying and practicing, Balan is considered a yogi — someone who is highly proficient in yoga. She attends annual retreats with her yoga group, where she is able to rejuvenate, ready to tackle any K&R event when she returns.

In 2016, Balan visited Tuscany, Italy, where she learned the practice of yoga nidra, a very deep form of meditation. It’s described as the “going-to-sleep stage” — a type of yoga that brings participants to a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping.

“It awakens a different part of your brain,” Balan commented. “Orally describing it doesn’t quite do it justice. One has to practice Nidra to fully understand the effect it has on your being.”

Keeping a level head during a crisis is key in their line of business, Tucker said. He can attest to the benefit of having a yogi on board.

“I’ve seen her run table-top exercises where there is this group of people in a room and they run an exercise, a simulation of a kidnap incident. Denise is very committed to what we’re doing,” said Tucker.

“She brings that energy. She doesn’t get flustered by much.”

Building a K&R Program

When Balan joined XL Catlin, she was tasked with creating the K&R team.

Balan during a retreat in Sicily, Italy, 2017

She spent time researching and analyzing what clients would want in their K&R coverage. What stuck out most to Balan was the fact that, in these situations, the decision to purchase kidnap and ransom cover is rarely made because of desire for reimbursement of money.

“I asked why people buy this type of coverage. The answer was for the security responders,” she said.

“These are the people who sit with the family. They’re similar to psychologists or priests,” Balan further explained. “Corporations can afford to pay ransom. They buy [K&R] because it gives them access to these trained and dedicated professionals who not only provide negotiation advice, but actually sit with a victim’s family, engaging deep levels of emotional investment.”

“I’ve learned to appreciate all moments in life — one at a time. The ability to think clearly and calmly guides my work, my practice and my personal life.” — Denise Balan, senior VP and head of U.S. kidnap & ransom, XL Catlin

Balan described these responders as people having total clarity of purpose, setting their intentions to resolve a crisis — a practice at the very heart of yoga. She knew XL Catlin’s new kidnap program would put stock in their responders.

“I’ve worked closely with the responders to better understand what they can do for our clientele. These are the people who run into danger — warrior hearts married to dedication to our clients’ best interests.”

But K&R is more than fast-paced crisis and quick thinking; Balan also spent a good deal of time writing the K&R form and getting the company’s resources in order. This was a huge task to tackle when creating the program from the ground up.

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“A lot of my day-to-day is speaking with brokers and finding ways to enhance our product,” she said.

After a few months, she was able to hire the company’s first K&R underwriter. From there, the program has grown. It’s left her feeling professionally rewarded.

“People don’t often get that opportunity to build something up from scratch,” she said. “It’s been an amazing experience — rewarding and fun.”

“She brings groups of people together,” said Tucker. “She’s created a positive environment.”

Balan’s yogi nature extends beyond the office walls, too. Her pride and joy, she said, are her kids. And while it may seem like two large parts of her life are opposite in nature, Balan’s achieved balance through her passions.

“[Yoga] has given me the ability to see beyond only one aspect of any situation” she said. “I’ve learned to appreciate all moments in life — one at a time. The ability to think clearly and calmly guides my work, my practice and my personal life.” &

Autumn Heisler is a staff writer at Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]