martin massiello

A Recipe for Success

Professionally and personally, Martin Massiello, the new CEO of Eisenhower Health, demonstrates a mastery of skills.

Janice Kleinschmidt Current PSL, Health & Wellness

martin massiello

“Decisions need to be made at any moment. An important priority for me is to continue to create that atmosphere where employees can make decisions and follow up as needed,” says Martin Massiello, president and CEO of Eisenhower Health since March.
PHOTOGRAPH BY AUSTIN HARGRAVE

The Valley

Health

Martin Massiello so enjoyed being an Ohio Northern University student that, after earning a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and working as a pharmacist, he enrolled in ONU’s law school.

“I decided I loved the study of law but wasn’t excited about the practice of law,” he concedes. So, after earning a juris doctorate and passing the bar, he chose a career in medicine. That turned out to be a wise decision: In March, Massiello assumed the helm of a premier healthcare system in a region known for year-round sunshine and a chill vibe.

When G. Aubrey Serfling announced his retirement after 20 years as president and CEO of Eisenhower Health, the Rancho Mirage-based institution launched a nationwide search for his replacement. Massiello held an edge over other candidates: As Eisenhower’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, he had worked closely with Serfling for almost 13 years.

“He included me in all matters,” Massiello says, adding that Serfling not only mentored him, but also became a great friend. “I was quite happy in my role and was in denial that he would retire. He built Eisenhower as we know it today, so it was hard to imagine him not being at the helm.”

When he learned he was chosen to lead Eisenhower into the future, he says, “I was relieved, because I felt the culture and organization that Aubrey created would be safe with me advancing them. I know this organization from top to bottom.”

Massiello aspires to be inspirational — to lead by example and give employees the tools they need to succeed. But his eyes also are trained on the larger community.

“We have engaged in activities to make sure our employees understand the diverse population we serve,” he says. “We have a requisite program on LGBTQ sensitivity. We have speakers come to talk to our leadership team about a just healthcare system. I find that to be critically important to keep who we are who we are.

“My hope is to maintain an environment that respects diversity and inclusion, justice, and respect of patients and each other,” he continues. “That all sounds like flowery language, but it really is our culture, and it needs to be protected and nurtured.”

For examples of near-term operational plans, Massiello points to the design of new spaces for increasing cardiac and vascular services as well as the expansion of the Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center on the Rancho Mirage campus and cancer programs in Palm Springs.

“You need to reinvent yourself and adapt to the frequently changing healthcare climate: staying on the cutting edge of technology and building a workforce that has patient care as its true north,” he says. “We have spent a lot of energy in becoming a teaching hospital, which has raised the bar on our expertise and keeps us from becoming stagnant.

“My vision for Eisenhower beyond the next five years is to grow programs beyond our current service area,” Massiello says, explaining that he foresees Inland Empire residents coming to Eisenhower for medical needs they might otherwise take to Los Angeles. “The challenge is getting out there and letting people in the valley and beyond know our capabilities.”

Though overseeing a community-wide hospital and healthcare system at times calls for imaginative thinking, Massiello’s job involves a lot of financial and operational data. So his Instagram page at @martymass33 elicits a jaw-dropping reaction with a culinary paradise of colorful pastries, pastas, and more.

Let’s start, as Massiello did, with layered desserts that make you want to have his cake and eat it, too.

“I have always desired to use the creative side of my brain, and baking was the vehicle I found to do that. When I was a pharmacist, we used to make the drugs, and that science is a recipe. I love reading and following recipes,” he says, and then adds the artistry aspect: “I got really interested in decorating cakes in different ways. I challenged myself every time I made one to try something new and beautiful.

“I love watching the Food Network, but social media is where I go for ideas,” he continues. “It’s amazing what you can learn on YouTube; I honed my skills watching videos.”

Massiello enjoys experimenting with pies and galettes, but prefers the challenge of cakes: “Frosting a cake is not as easy as it might seem,” he says, assuming one agrees. “Part of the fun is buying the creative tools to do it.”

He makes the most of the change of seasons and holidays: for example, pumpkin pecan cake for Thanksgiving and a heart-shaped cake with strawberry slices on the right half and piped swirls of red frosting on the left. He considers his masterpiece a tall “Oscar Night” cake with glittering gold sparkles around the base and yellow roses circling the top.

Though he continues making cakes (averaging three a month), he figuratively and literally stretched his creative pursuits when the pandemic forced everyone to spend more time at home. While others learned how to make sourdough bread, he explored the finer points of making pasta.

“I am 100 percent Italian,” he prefaces his explanation. “I thought back to the times I made pasta with my mom. I have built on that and done really interesting things with flavors and shapes that were new to me.”

Massiello’s Instagram page shows pasta in a rainbow of colors (derived from spinach, beets, blueberries, celery, chocolate, et al.) and forms (spiraled, pinched, twisted, ridged, fluted, bundled, and stamped).

“I’ve made striped and all kinds of stuffed pastas,” Massiello says.

His creative output benefits from another of his hobbies: photography. His Instagram page reveals a Bon Appétit-worthy eye for perspective, staging, clarity, and color. He also uses his camera skills in an interest he shares with his husband.

“Jeff and I are bird watchers,” he says. “I have taken a lot of photos of birds over the years. Here in the valley, we go to Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, where the water attracts migrating birds.”

The couple also spends considerable time in their pool.

“We are really big lap swimmers. We swim four or five days a week, about a mile each time,” Massiello says and then, after a brief pause, adds, “Sometimes we race.”

Given the yummy-looking cake and pasta coming from their kitchen, a calorie-burning competition undoubtedly serves them well.

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