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

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.


That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.


Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]