Mon Health’s new leader has always had a heart for Mountaineer Country.
➼ When David Goldberg left Morgantown for Washington, D.C., in 1994 with a freshly minted degree, it turns out he left a piece of himself behind—a piece that would bring him back a quarter century later as a leader in his field.
Goldberg grew up in Edison, New Jersey. His mother steered him toward WVU for college—her lifelong friend David Gleitzman was practicing podiatry here so, as a WVU student, he’d have a family friend close by. A 1989 college-visit road trip with his brother and two friends convinced him Morgantown was the place for him. He never looked at another college.
In D.C., Goldberg’s studies in political science and his interest in nonprofits led him to work first on the administrative side of the U.S. Senate, then in nonprofit fundraising.
But as he and his wife prepared to have a child, he took a less travel-oriented position in 2001 with Inova Loudoun Hospital in northern Virginia. It was a small shift—still nonprofit—that made perfect sense in his life. “I’m a former Shriners Hospitals kid,” he says, referring to the network of hospitals that treats certain serious conditions in children. “I had significant spinal problems and had spinal surgery when I was 7 years old. I fell in love with health care.”
From there, Goldberg’s career path became clear. He earned a master’s in health systems management and worked his way up to a vice presidency at Inova, then ran two hospitals at Baptist Health System in Texas. To get back closer to home, he took a position with Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh in 2014 and soon became senior vice president of administration, overseeing eight acute care hospitals and multiple other treatment delivery sites.
Then, in the spring of 2018, his old friend Dr. Gleitzman called.
“He said, ‘There’s a leadership change at Mon Health System. It’d be a great way to get back to Morgantown,’” Goldberg recalls. “I wasn’t looking for a job. I said, ‘I’m happy in Pittsburgh!’”
But the fact was, Goldberg had left his heart in Morgantown. He served on the visiting committee for WVU’s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. He and his wife, also an alum, had donated to a scholarship in honor of WVU professor emeritus of political science Robert DiClerico. He followed all of the major WVU sports and charitably supported the golf team. And his entire family drove down frequently for WVU theater events, home football games, and other community activities.
Goldberg took a look at Mon Health and found he liked what he saw. “Mon Health has a strong reputation clinically and great doctors,” he says. “And then I found out it had grown to be a three-hospital system, with Preston Memorial Hospital and Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital, and I said, ‘Wow. More than 130 employed physicians, thousands of employees—what a great opportunity.’”
So even though he’d been happy enough driving an hour and a half each way, Goldberg packed up last fall and moved back to Mountaineer Country.
Everything is Local
That’s how the new president and CEO of our community health care system thinks about health care. “Patients are local—they need to know that we can provide the very best care and service close to home.”
Mon Health’s facilities feel local, as opposed to giant and corporate, he says, from the patient rooms to the operating rooms. “The medical staff, so many were born and raised in West Virginia, went on for advanced training elsewhere, and came back. Nurses, physical therapists, they were born and raised here and stayed or came back to provide service to neighbors and family. All of our board members reside in Morgantown or north central West Virginia, and they keep us true to the values of high quality, high safety, and service delivery at the best price possible for our community members. It’s so special to be part of an organization like that.”
- implementing a new electronic health records system that will give patients and their families easier access to appointments, test results, and other information;
- making primary care available seven days per week in Morgantown, so patients have best access to emergency, urgent, and primary care as appropriate;
- cutting unnecessary expenses, to keep care affordable across the system; and
- continually ensuring that tests and medications are ordered appropriately, with treatment goals and costs in mind.
Relationship with WVU Medicine
Goldberg acknowledges past tension between Mon Health and WVU Medicine and emphasizes that it’s exactly that: in the past.
“Collaboration is needed in health care. Sometimes you compete, and positive competition is not a bad thing—it improves outcomes, raises sights, and keeps you moving forward. But I have a great relationship, and Mon Health has a great relationship, with the leadership at WVU and WVU Medicine such that we can always put the community first and drive best-in-class care.”
He sees a place for both institutions. The community needs the kind of locally based, progressive care that Mon Health provides, he says, and it also needs highly specialized services like kidney and heart transplant and care for significant trauma that can only be provided by an academic hospital.
He’s working closely with WVU Medicine to increase collaboration.
“We already partner on a lot of things: pediatrics, neonatology, nephrology, ENT,” he says. Talks are underway in telestroke, neurology, and, most currently, emergency medical services. “We are merging our two competing businesses into one unified EMS and transport system so we can put the patient at the center and holistically provide a coordinated service.”
Morgantown, a Quarter Century Later
What’s changed the most since the mid-’90s? Goldberg says it’s the food. “What a difference! I’ve probably gained my freshman 15 again. The food is great.”
More seriously, he notes the region’s advances. “The university, the county, and the cities of Morgantown and Weston and Kingwood, these communities have come such a far way from when I was here in the ’90s,” he says. “We have our struggles—taxes, infrastructure—but we have a lot to be proud of.”
It’s a testament to the quality of life here that many who come from elsewhere decide it’s where they want to stay, he says, himself included. “I’ve lived all over the country, and I could have gone anywhere, but I love being in Morgantown.”
He feels the same about the health care community here. “People should be so impressed and confident in the health care that’s delivered through Mon Health and the providers in the state of West Virginia. I have met with hospital leaders and governmental leaders from Charleston to Morgantown, and the one thing we’re all aligned in is that no West Virginian should have to leave the state for care. We have a strong health care system and I’m thrilled to be a part of that community.”
Photographed by Carla Witt Ford