Retiring Schneck leader receives Sagamore of the Wabash


On a night when recognition was bestowed upon him, Warren Forgey chose to shine the spotlight on others.

After being surprised with the prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash, the retiring president and chief executive officer of Schneck Medical Center attributed credit where he felt it was due.

Working at the Seymour hospital in various roles, the 65-year-old Freetown native said it has been a privilege to be a part of the organization.

"I have great appreciation for this organization, its medical staff, the entire Schneck team and for what we’ve accomplished over these past 28 years," he said during Monday night’s Schneck board of trustees meeting in the Schneck Auditorium.

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During Forgey’s tenure, Schneck has received many accolades and awards, completed many projects and passed a number of significant milestones.

Forgey was named a Rural Hospital CEO to Know by Becker’s Hospital Review from 2016 to 2020 and honored with the Distinguished Service Award from the Indiana Hospital Association in 2019 and the Grassroots Champion Award from the American Hospital Association.

He also has been instrumental in advancing patient-focused care, including leading two major expansion and renovation projects. The most recent was highlighted by a five-story medical office building and attached parking garage, which was the largest master facility plan in Schneck’s history, board President Rick Smith said.

Forgey also has achieved significant improvements in operations, accomplishing cost efficiency while increasing patient satisfaction. Schneck also has earned a debt rating of A from Standard and Poor’s and a rating of AA- from Fitch Ratings.

‘It’s the care we provide’

Since announcing his retirement earlier this year, Forgey said a lot of people have asked him if any of those accomplishments or moments stand out. He, however, hesitates to mention any in particular because so many people were involved and he doesn’t want to leave anybody out.

"Really, for me, more important than any award that this organization has received or any recognition or new process or new technology that we’ve added or new construction projects we’ve completed, more important than any of those are the outcomes for the patients that receive care here," he said.

Forgey said he’s convinced patients aren’t really concerned about the number of awards Schneck has received or how many buildings it has built.

"I think that some of our past achievements may give them some level of comfort when they choose a provider and before they arrive, but I think that they are concerned about their own health, their own well-being, their own outcomes, and that’s rightfully so," he said.

"I think if anyone ever has a bad outcome here or services aren’t provided the way that they expect them to be provided, a thousand past awards would make no difference or make it right, so it’s the care we provide," he said.

Schneck compares itself to the best of the best and expects its outcomes to be in the top docile of all health care providers, Forgey said.

"We’re not satisifed with just being good or being above average, and our results are among the best, and you see those reports every month at our board meetings," he said. "We’re consistently among the best performers, and we constantly work to improve our performance."

Schneck isn’t perfect, he said, but staff members continue the work to maintain excellence in the services that they provide.

"Most meaningful to me is the level of care that we provide every day to every single patient," Forgey said. "Every patient, every patient encounter is important. That’s our patient-first culture."

Team effort

None of the success during his tenure would have been possible without the support of the current and past board members and the accountability and teamwork of the medical staff and those in clinical and nonclinical positions, Forgey said.

"Every individual in our team is important," he said. "Excellent results and outcomes are not possible without a concerted effort from every member of the Schneck team. The successes achieved during my 28-plus years here at Schneck, including the last five years as president and CEO, are greatly attributed to the Schneck team."

He said he’s particularly proud of the executive team he has assembled over the past five years and pointed them out during the meeting.

He said he has relied on them to help develop and implement strategic plans and achieve the hospital’s overall goals.

"Schneck is extremely fortunate to have this group in place to guide the organization forward," he said. "The position of president and CEO has its challenges, but this group has always been ready to help me whenever I’ve needed it, and for that, I will be forever grateful. I’m confident that they will continue to meet the health care challenges for many years to come."

That team includes Forgey’s successor, Dr. Eric Fish, who will assume the role of president and CEO next week.

"He is an important member of the team and I think an excellent choice to succeed me, and I’m confident he’s going to do a great job as your new president and CEO," Forgey said.

From birth to now

While Forgey had a long career at Schneck, he made his first appearance there in 1955 when he was born at what was then known as Jackson County Schneck Memorial Hospital.

A display case in the lobby includes a document showing he weighed 6 pounds, 10 ounces and his parents received a bill for $49.75.

Forgey later graduated from Brownstown Central High School in 1973 and began his career in health care at Bloomington Hospital in 1976.

He had a background in finance and accounting and became a licensed certified public accountant in 1990 before joining Schneck in 1992.

He started as an assistant controller. He then was named vice president/chief financial officer and treasurer in 1996, executive vice president fiscal services/business development in 2012 and executive vice president and chief administrative and operations officer in 2014 before taking over as president and CEO in 2015. 

In his various roles, Smith said Forgey has provided sound leadership and made significant contributions.

"You have sustained a culture at Schneck that promotes better access to health care in a caring and compassionate manner," Smith said. "You have empowered your leadership team to set clear metrics of what it means to strive for excellence in a very complicated health care environment."

Forgey’s accomplishments were capped off with Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb bestowing him the Sagamore of the Wabash, which was delivered Monday night by Indiana District 44 Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford.

The award was created during the term of Gov. Ralph Gates in the late 1940s. After Kentucky’s governor presented the Kentucky Colonel award to him, Gates decided the Hoosier State should have such an award.

Koch said each Indiana governor has issued the award in his own way, and Holcomb bestows a very limited number each year.

The governor’s highest honor goes to those who have distinguished themselves by humanity and living, loyalty and friendship and wisdom and inspiration in leadership and contributed to their communities in an extraordinary manner or distinguished themselves in service to the state.

"We’ve had the chance to work together on projects very important to this hospital, and your leadership has been tremendous," Koch said to Forgey.

"I know you well enough you’re going to say it wasn’t you, it was them and it was the team here at the hospital, and that’s probably true," Koch said. "But every team needs a coach and every coach has to be a good leader, and you’ve been that coach, you’ve been that leader, you’ve been that friend to the people that work here."

This coming Monday marks the closure of Forgey’s 44-year health care career, including the past 28 at Schneck.

Since 1948, only four people have held the position of president and CEO of Schneck.

"I want to thank the board for giving me the opportunity to be one of those four individuals. It has truly been an honor to hold this position," Forgey said.

A plaque honoring Forgey will be placed on a wall inside the Seymour hospital next to those of George James and Gary Meyer.

"Similar to them, I hope that I’ve left this organization in a better position than when I arrived and I’m leaving Schneck on a solid foundation on which to continue to grow in the future," he said, drawing a round of applause from the board.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Forgey file” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Name: Warren Forgey

Age: 65

Hometown: Freetown

Residence: Seymour

Education: Brownstown Central High School (1973); Indiana Institute of Technology (Bachelor of Science in business administration, 1989); Rochester Institute of Technology (Master of Science in health systems administration, 2002)

Occupation: Retiring Aug. 31 after working for 44 years in health care, including the past 28 years at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, where he has served as president and chief executive officer since 2015

Family: Wife, Sherri; son, Andrew; daughter, Jill


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