2017 Risk All Star: Frank Russo

Risk Management in Memory Care

Risk management encompasses more than insurance and safety programs, thought Frank Russo, senior vice president of risk and legal affairs and the privacy officer for Silverado Senior Living. So, he asked himself, what could he do to utilize risk management practices throughout his company?

Frank Russo, SVP of risk and legal affairs, privacy officer, Silverado Senior Living

“We, both myself and the executive team, including our CEO, recognized that there were initiatives in place that could involve risk management. Risk could be part of the discussion,” he said.

“There’s no secret sauce to it; visibility, relationship building and trust would be key to integrating risk management.”

Russo approached department heads within Silverado—from finance to marketing, HR to sales—and spoke on risk management. He showed the value in having risk management practices within each aspect of the company, and soon Russo was gaining responsibility in areas managed by others.

In HR, he earned a place in the hiring process. In marketing, he started reviewing marketing strategies—reading over an article before publication or running through possible risks of a promotional video.

“Risk management and legal are a strong part of the company’s culture now,” Russo explained. “We’ve made ourselves available, made a place where people want to talk to us.”

Joanne Wankmiller, managing principal and senior care practice leader at Integro Insurance Brokers has worked with Russo since the start of his Silverado career.


“Frank continues to be very collaborative with brokers, third-party vendors and insurance carriers. He reins in as many resources as he can find,” Wankmiller said.

And Silverado’s seen the results. Frequency of employment practice liability claims was reduced by 19 percent since risk management became an integral component of Silverado operations.

Severity of EPL claims was reduced by 22 percent, frequency of general liability and professional liability claims was reduced by 19 percent and total cost of turnover was reduced by 10 percent.

“There’s no secret sauce to it; visibility, relationship building and trust would be key to integrating risk management.” — Frank Russo, SVP of risk and legal affairs, privacy officer, Silverado Senior Living

“Workers’ comp claims have been reduced, which I think translates over to resident safety,” said Wankmiller.

Russo didn’t stop at numbers; safety and protection were paramount, due to the nature of Silverado’s work, caring for elderly people who suffer from Alzheimer’s or other memory loss afflictions.

“We have families asking us to care for their loved ones, so there’s a lot of risk to think about,” said Russo.

One area where Russo improved safety protocols was in active shooter training.

“The assisted living industry, as a whole, never had assisted living-specific active shooter training,” Russo explained.

Russo and the Silverado team created their own active shooter training video and made it free to the industry.

“We saw the need and made it happen,” he added.

Having a CEO, an executive team and a board that wanted risk involved in the day-to-day operations made Russo’s initiative possible. &


Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and passion.

See the complete list of 2017 Risk All Stars.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Black Swans

Black Swans: Yes, It Can Happen Here

In this year's Black Swan coverage, we focus on two events: An Atlantic mega-tsunami which would wipe out the East Coast and a killer global pandemic.
By: | July 30, 2018 • 2 min read

One of the most difficult phrases to digest without becoming frustrated or judgmental is the oft-repeated, “I never thought that could happen here.”


Most painfully, we hear it time and time again in the aftermath of the mass school shootings that terrorize this country. Shocked parents and neighbors, viewing the carnage, voice that they can’t believe this happened in their neighborhood.

Not to be mean, but why couldn’t it happen in your neighborhood?

So it is with Black Swans, a phrase describing unforeseen events, made famous by the former trader and acerbic critic of academia Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

We at Risk & Insurance® define these events in insurance terms by saying that they are highly infrequent, yet could cause massive damages. This year, for our annual Black Swan issue, we present two very different scenarios, both of which would leave mass devastation in their wake.

A Mega-Tsunami Is Coming; Can the East Coast Even Prepare?, written by staff writer Autumn Heisler, profiles an Atlantic mega-tsunami, which would wipe out lives and commerce along the East Coast.

On the topic of whether the volcanic island of La Palma, the most northwestern of the Canary Islands, could erupt, split and trigger an Atlantic mega-tsunami, scientists are divided.

Researchers Steven Ward, a geophysicist at UC Santa Cruz, and Simon Day of University College London, say such a thing could happen. Other scientists say Day and Ward are dead wrong; it’s an impossibility.

One of the counter-arguments is backed up by the statement that there has never been an Atlantic mega-tsunami. It’s never happened before and thus, could never happen here. See exhibit “A” above, re: mass school shootings.

Viral Fear: How a Global Pandemic Kills an Economy, written by associate editor Katie Dwyer, depicts a killer global pandemic the likes of which hasn’t been seen in a century.

Tens of millions of people died during the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918.

Why it could happen again includes the fact that it’s happened before. The science on influenzas, which are constantly mutating, also supports just how dangerous a threat they pose to millions of people beyond the reach of antibiotics.

Should a mutating avian flu, for example, spread widely, we could see a 10 percent drop in GDP, mostly from non-physical business interruption.

As always here, the purpose is to do exactly what insurance modelers and underwriters do; no matter how massive the event, we create scenarios, quantify possible losses and discuss risk mitigation strategies. &

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]