Patrick O’Donnell, president and CEO of Summit Health

Patrick O’Donnell, Summit Health CEO

Kevin G. Gilbert/Chief Photographer
Summit Health CEO Patrick O’Donnell enjoys a Vitamin Water in his office at Chambersburg Hospital in Chambersburg, Pa.

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Patrick O’Donnell is president and chief executive officer of Summit Health, which operates numerous health care facilities, including hospitals in Chambersburg and Waynesboro, Pa.

According to The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, Summit annually contributes nearly $791 million to the region’s economy. In March, employment figures released by the Franklin County Area Development Corp. showed Summit to be the largest employer in Franklin County. The latest numbers indicated more than 3,500 employees work for Summit Health’s entities across Franklin and Cumberland counties.

O’Donnell received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Shippensburg University in 1981 and a master’s degree in business administration from Frostburg State University in 1991. He has been with Summit since 1985, when be became controller of Chambersburg Hospital. He also has served as Summit’s chief financial officer and senior vice president of finance. He was named CEO in 2013.

On a break, is it coffee, tea, soda, water … ?

You would probably see me with a bottle of Vitamin Water (Zero). It is a joke in the office that if I took a break, maybe I wouldn’t spill my coffee on myself so frequently. It just happened five minutes ago.

How did your previous experience prepare you for your current role?

Throughout my career, I have been very fortunate to have several excellent mentors that took me under their wing. The lessons learned were many, but none as important as never compromising your integrity, no matter how difficult the situation. In addition, I was encouraged to lead with my heart and know that it is OK to show your passion on the issues that touch your values.

There hasn’t been a day that goes by that I haven’t felt blessed to work in such an outstanding and caring place. It has been extremely rewarding to not only work with such talented individuals, but to see the care and compassion that each member of our team has for their neighbors. This is in the forefront when I’m making decisions in my current role.

Given the national discussion on health care, what should people know about what’s happening at Summit Health?

I think it’s important to know that Summit Health continues to evaluate ways to ensure accessible health care to all community members. We offer free events and screenings annually so the public can educate themselves on various health topics and know their risks for certain chronic diseases.

Additionally, it’s important to know that Summit Health is nonprofit. In the 2016 fiscal year alone, Summit Health contributed $48.5 million to impact the community through investment in technology, community health programs, speaking events, grants, subsidized health services, education for health professionals, charity care and more.

An average day for a health care CEO looks like … ?

It is not unusual to put in 12 to 14 hours on an average day with early morning meetings and evening obligations. I enjoy the variability and variety, so the time goes by very fast. The day may start with an issue that requires immediate attention, then my focus and attention may switch to understanding and planning for Summit’s future. Honestly, I’m not sure there is an average day, with the tremendous uncertainty and changes health care is experiencing. It is an unprecedented time in our industry. The one constant is the caring and dedicated people who provide care for our patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I love interacting with our employees, physicians and leaders, so I would say this is by far the highlight of my “average day.”

Outside of work, what are your ambitions and aspirations?

I view my role at Summit as one of serving others. Outside of work, I want to continue to serve others in the community, as well as my family. This may sound a little corny, but I want to always have a positive outlook on life, while continuing to learn and experience new things. More specifically, I would love to become a better golfer, which may be more of a dream than an actual reality. I guess this is more perspiration than inspiration.

Want to share a cup of coffee with our readers? Send an email to or call reporter Mike Lewis at 301-733-5131.