Burning Passion, Stalwart Perseverance, Brilliant Creativity: Meet the 2020 Risk All Stars

With societal upheaval testing the nerves of many, these risk managers dug deep and came up with solutions to benefit everyone around them.
By: | September 1, 2020

There are many clichéd ways to say it, but the truth remains: It’s not until people are really tested that they find out what they are made of.

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Happily, for all walks of society, we have risk managers, many of whom dug down deep in the past year to find ways to make their fellow citizens and co-workers safer. In doing so, they became Risk All Stars, joining a line of risk managers recognized by Risk & Insurance® on an annual basis for their creativity, passion and perseverance.

2020 Risk All Star Shannon Hojnowski, an assistant manager for safety and insurance with Anne Arundel County, Md., is one of those people.

The gunman who shot his way into the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md. in June 2018 forever changed how Hojnowski and her colleagues in Anne Arundel County government looked at risk.

In analyzing the outburst that took the lives of five local journalists, Hojnowksi began to think about the role that the interventions of bystanders can play in helping people survive catastrophic events.

Unfortunately, the Annapolis event was not the only example she had at her disposal. There are too many, but the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013 also served to illustrate the potential bystanders have to reduce the fatal toll of an attack.

Using our military procedures and training as a model, Hojnowksi deduced that swiftly applying a tourniquet to a grave injury greatly increases a victim’s chances of survival. In her Risk All Star application, she noted that 90% of soldiers who make it to a field hospital alive survive.

Her solution was to create and implement a program to provide all county employees with the tools and training needed to save lives through traumatic bleeding intervention (TBI) in the event another tragedy should occur in her workplace or within the greater community of Anne Arundel County.

By March of 2019, two bleeding control kits were housed in the location of 110 AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) locations in Anne Arundel County.

By September of 2019, a training program in TBI was rolled out for County employees. That training was augmented by compression CPR training and training in the use of an AED.

“Furthermore, multiple training times throughout the day allowed employees to schedule their training at a time suitable for them in an effort to maximize participation,” Hojnowski wrote in her application.

Hopefully, Hojnowski, her colleagues and the citizens of Anne Arundel will never have to apply a tourniquet to a shooting or bombing victim. But thanks to her training, they are so much better prepared to salvage life from the jaws of hatred and violence.

Then there’s the pandemic. And just think what it’s like to have to manage worker safety in any environment under these circumstances. Now try to imagine performing that service in a hospital.

You could try, but you couldn’t imagine the workload placed on Cris Balamaci and Joseph Molloy and their colleagues in the New York’s Northwell Health System.

The largest hospital system in New York State treated more than 13,000 COVID-19 patients at the state’s peak in April. Handling such an incredible volume of cases meant seven-day work weeks for many of the Northwell staff.

“The pandemic was unprecedented, and the requirements for medical professionals changed rapidly,” Molloy and Balamaci wrote in their joint Risk All Star application.

“While the hospital system planned to continue to operate on its advocacy model, it was a challenge to determine how to best assist those in need. Suddenly, there was a demand to process thousands of claims quickly while continuing to service claims that were already in progress before the onset of the virus.”

The group’s workers’ compensation claims system would see as many claims in a two-month period as it would normally see in a year’s time.

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Daily team meetings to ensure staff was kept up-to-date on OSHA and CDC regulatory changes were just part of the task. Getting ahead of the crisis curve and using technology to not only treat patients but also track claims were just some of the group’s keys to success.

Working with their TPA, Broadspire, Northwell executives not only rose to the task of handling the first wave of the pandemic but readied themselves for the second wave they knew was coming.

The profiles of Balamaci, Molloy and Hojnowski, among 11 others, grace the following pages. We’re proud to honor them as Risk All Stars, and we’re proud of the truly noble profession that developed them. &


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

See the complete list of 2020 Risk All Stars.

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

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]