Hospital CEO steps in to deliver commencement speech

  • Steve Walas runs HealthSouth Chesapeake Rehabilitation Hospital

    Wednesday, September 19, 2018
    Steve Walas - CEO of HealthSouth Chesapeake

    Steven Walas, chief executive officer of HealthSouth Chesapeake Rehabilitation Hospital, will serve as guest speaker for the rescheduled 2018 Founders' Day convocation and summer commencement at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. 

    The event was pushed back a week out of an abundance of caution in response to an ominous weather forecast that projected Hurricane Florence could bring heavy winds and torrential rain to the mid-Atlantic region on Sept. 13. 

    Walas graciously agreed to step into the role of speaker because Dr. John B. King Jr., the grandson of an early graduate, had a schedule conflict that precluded him from coming to Princess Anne a week later. 

    The commencement to be held is for 29 doctoral candidates in the university's popular Department of Physical Therapy. As a graduation requirement, UMES students do clinical rotations at local hospitals, including HealthSouth Chesapeake in Salisbury, where Walas has been the top administrator for the past eight years. 

    He oversees and manages the “day-to-day operations of a 64-bed acute physical rehabilitation hospital.” 

    A 1999 graduate of Penn State University with a degree in health policy and administration, Walas began his career with HealthSouth in his hometown of Mechanicsville, Pa. as a human resources coordinator. His primary responsibility was recruiting clinical staff. 

    From 2006 until May 2010, he was human resources director at the HealthSouth Reading (Pa.) Rehabilitation Hospital. 

    Walas calls “being CEO is a rewarding job. You get to see the highs and lows of everyday life in a hospital from your clinical successes to your clinical failures.” 

    “It also has given me a world view as I get to see things on the micro level of how patients are impacted every day,” he said. 

    His job also entails traveling to Washington where he talks healthcare issues with members of Congress.

    Walas and his wife Tina are the parents of twin sons, Gabe and Tobias, who are students at Stephen Decatur Middle School in Berlin.