Working From the Heart

Five philosophies guide CaroMont Health’s Maria Long as she fulfills a mission of compassionate service

Maria Long, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer


I’ve represented CaroMont Health from the time I started practicing law. As I got a lot of assignments for them, we started developing a strong relationship, and five-and-a-half years later, they hired me as in-house counsel. I came here with the intention of this being a bridge to other work, either with other nonprofits or through volunteering. I thought I would stay at CaroMont for twelve months, and here I am eleven years later. I’ve stayed because I’ve seen the value in doing something that plays to your strengths, and doing something that you are passionate about. I’m able to help take an organization that I believe in and get it to a better place.


I’ve tried to build for my team the opportunities that I had in my career. I believe that people work most effectively when they capitalize on their strengths instead of overcoming their weaknesses. That’s what got me in the position to be able to do things I never thought possible when I started here in 2003. I work to give my team the widest berth possible to work and further develop their strengths in order to maximize what they can do for the organization. They have been hired into their positions because of the unique combination of skill, talent, and personal drive they bring to their job. I try to give them the latitude they deserve to make decisions and be led by their sound judgment.


When I started here in 2003, it was just one other lawyer and me. There was no risk management department, and there was only a skeleton compliance department. Through growth and consolidation, we’ve built a really robust business integrity division with 150 people. In doing so, I’ve been convinced of the importance of relationships. We work in a complex organization, and if we lull ourselves into thinking it’s our expertise that will carry the day, then we’re not going to be successful. Relationships among people with and for whom you work are so critical, especially in an industry where so much trust is placed in others. It is our responsibility to put patients first, and that’s a relationship with the people we serve. We have to understand how people will interpret our actions. I’ve seen colleagues who have failed to understand just how important relationships are. Each and every time, I’ve seen the situation end poorly. When I got here, I was one person doing all legal functions. I couldn’t have succeeded without building strong relationships within the organization and learning how to assess the impact of each decision I made.


I think we all want to do significant work—and you can’t do that halfheartedly. I never went to law school with the intention of making a career out of it. I never intended to become a lawyer, but I was presented with opportunities that really spoke to me. If they didn’t—if I had stayed here for different reasons—it would have been the wrong choice. CaroMont was always my favorite client because they were and are so committed to doing what’s right. Having worked elsewhere has taught me the importance of working on a team that you really want to be a part of.


It’s important for a leader to be able to take a team through a challenge—and our industry faces significant ones. We have surveys and patient information that go to licensing agencies that could threaten our ability to provide services. However, we still have to do what is right, because that is the very nature of the service CaroMont provides. I try to help people focus on the right result in any situation. As we go into a situation, we must figure out what we are trying to achieve. Once you set that as your goal, you have to let the personal emotion fall away and focus on fulfilling your duty to achieve the right results. Calm, deliberate, and disciplined thought produces disciplined and effective action.

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CaroMont Regional Medical Center is CaroMont’s largest care facility.