October 07, 2014
Article from the Las Vegas Review-Journal
By Jan Hogan
Summerlin Area View Reporter
Phone: (702) 387-2949
Community events at MountainView Hospital, 3100 N Tenaya Way, are often held in the Mark Howard Classroom. Howard's is not a household name, but it has significance for the facility: He was its first president and CEO.
The possibility of working in hospital administration did not come up until Howard was halfway through college.
"I ran into a doctor...and he said, 'You have unbelievable management skills. Go into hospital administration,' " Howard said. "That was the first time I'd ever heard of it."
Rita A. Moore, now H2U program manager at MountainView, was one of the first people hired to work there and recalled seeing Howard on site often, when the building was under construction.
"He'd be giving tours," she said. "He was there so much, (the construction crew) gave him a hard hat with his name on it."
After the hospital opened in February 1996, he'd arrive early, using his daily run to get from his house in Desert Shores to work. Still in his jogging clothes, he'd make the rounds, checking in with the night crew, before showering and officially starting his day. It was a time before hospitals installed safety measures and were put on lockdown each night, so seeing the flash as he jogged by was initially cause for concern among workers — until they realized their CEO was an early morning person.
"He was like an uncle (to employees)," Moore said. "He made you feel like it was a family here...He knew everyone's name."
Indeed, Howard attended employee weddings and the funerals of their family members. He handed out his home phone number and told staff members to contact him if they had a problem. In 13 years, he got only seven calls, he said.
Kelly Kern, chief operating officer of MountainView Hospital, also was part of the administration when the facility opened.
"He was a very interesting person, very dedicated, with passion for quality health care," Kern said of Howard.
Kern also credited Howard with being a strong leader, saying he always looked for ways to improve the organization.
"It's no easy feat, opening a building this size," Kern said. "...He taught me to always be mindful of the patients, to ensure we were delivering quality care."
Moore said Howard was humble and not above picking up litter he saw dropped. When he mowed his lawn, he'd also mow his neighbor's. When the front of the hospital became a mine field of expelled chewing gum, he brought his power washer and cleaned it up.
How humble was he?
"He'd joke, 'If the housekeeper, or me, was gone for a week, who would you miss more?' " Moore said.
Outside the hospital, Howard served as a board member at various organizations, including the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce.
A Vietnam veteran who was a retired colonel with the United States Air Force Medical Service Corps, Howard was a staunch believer in defending America. Soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he went to his commander and asked to re-enlist.
The Howard family has known its own heartache. Howard and his wife, Debbie, had four children — Michelle, Scott, Amanda and Ken. About 10 years ago, while a senior in nursing school, Amanda became ill and was diagnosed with leukemia, a battle she eventually lost.
"Of the four children, she was the most like me," Howard said. "It was a very challenging time."
In lieu of flowers, a scholarship was set up in Amanda's name, which resulted in $570,000 in donations. The majority, $420,000, was from Hospital Corporation of America, "but that's still another $150,000 coming from (individuals)," Howard said.
"So, she has five endowed scholarships at Nevada State College (School) of Nursing," Howard said. "We feel she was a blessing to us, and we had her for 22 great years."
After retiring from MountainView, Howard and his wife served on a three-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints to the Philippines, where Howard had served his own two-year mission as a young man. This time, he was in charge of hundreds of missionaries.
The couple are retired and live in Northern Utah, where Howard, 72, is involved with Boy Scouts of America and volunteers at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. There, he helps prepare young men before they head off to the Philippines on their own missions.