Rocco Vivenzio Announced as AMDA Foundation’s 2013 Medical Director of the Year

March 27, 2013
Perry Gwen Meyers,

Columbia, MD – The AMDA Foundation (an affiliate of AMDA – Dedicated to Long Term Care Medicine) is pleased to announce that Rochester, NY-based physician Rocco Vivenzio, MD, CMD, has been named 2013 Medical Director of the Year. The award, established in 2007, recognizes those medical directors who set an outstanding example of what the physician leader in long term care can accomplish with knowledge, experience, dedication, passion, and teamwork, as well as  the ability to multi-task, stay on top of clinical and quality improvement innovations, and lead long term care facilities in providing quality care. 

Dr. Vivenzo started his career as one of the first nursing home medical directors in the region. In 1995, he founded the Unity Geriatrics Association to coordinate a network of physicians to manage the care in nursing homes. When Dr. Vivenzo brought this network to the University of Rochester Medical Center and created the Strong Health Geriatrics Group in 1999, it encompassed seven nursing homes with 635 beds. Today, the group includes 13 skilled nursing facilities and 21 assisted living facilities, with thousands of patients and 30 medical providers. Dr. Vivenzio served as medical director of Strong Geriatrics from 1999 to 2011, during which time he changed the standards of care, including proposing to place nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PA) in nursing homes on a regular basis. This was one of the first networks of its kind in the nation. In establishing this network, Dr. Vivenzio was influential in improving care for thousands of patients in the Rochester area and setting a standard for quality, safety, and patient- and family-centeredness.

At Highland Hospital, a University of Rochester Medical Center affiliate, Dr. Vivenzio has been instrumental in devising state-of-the-art mechanisms that have helped providers communicate during transitions from acute care to nursing homes and vice versa. He standardized transition packets to include patient medicines, advance directives, medical history, family decision makers, and patient preferences. These efforts have resulted in a more efficient care system with a low rate of readmissions to the hospital and a high rate of patient and family satisfaction.

As a medical director of nine nursing homes and a member of several committees and community organizations, Dr. Vivenzio also has remained an active attending physician known far and wide for his effective and compassionate care. Beyond his role as medical director, Dr. Vivenzio is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Clinical Instructor in Geriatric Medicine at the Rochester Institute of Technology Physician’s Assistant Program, Clinical Instructor in Geriatric Medicine at Lemoyne College (Physician’s Assistant Program), and Clinical Instructor at St. Fisher College (Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program). 

Dr. Vivenzio’s passion about medical direction is contagious, said Dallas Nelson, MD, CMD, FACP, medical director of Strong and President of the Finger Lakes Medical Directors Association. “He essentially gave me my career. He taught me about medical direction and how to be an active physician leader. He taught me how to love it.” Instead of pushing or pulling people into his practice or into medical direction, he invited them. Dr. Nelson said, “He once invited me to see the process of an informal dispute resolution with the state. He was constantly thinking of ways and opportunities to teach.”

Before care transitions became a top national priority, Dr. Vivenzio was working to provide a seamless continuum of care for patients in Rochester. He developed a quality assurance/performance improvement (QAPI) project to standardize the skilled nursing home-to-hospital transfer form in collaboration with hospitals. “This led to the hospitals’ willingness to standardize their referral packets and transfer forms for patients going to the skilled nursing facility from the hospital,” said Daniel Mendelson, MD, MS, CMD, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center. 

As a long-time member, Dr. Vivenzio is pleased to be recognized by his AMDA friends and colleagues. “I couldn’t be more honored.” He stressed that “AMDA has made a huge difference” to the practice of long term care medicine. “The organization has matured so much in the last 5-6 years, especially its academic/educational aspects. The annual conference is a true educational experience.”

The award was presented Friday during the Opening General Session of AMDA Long Term Care Medicine—2013 in Washington, DC—Gaylord National. Dr. Vivenzio was unable to attend due to illness, and Dr. Mendelson accepted the award on his behalf.  Dr. Vivenzio’s daughter, Katie, was in the audience. Dr. Mendelson said, “So much of what Dr. Vivenzio has meant to me involves the idea of acting locally and thinking globally. He didn’t set out to change the world, but he did.”