EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an expanded version of the story that appeared in the April 2017 print edition of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.
A chance conversation with a pharmacist changed Frank Grosso’s life.
The executive director and CEO of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, Grosso describes himself in his early years in Syracuse, NY, as “not the best student in the world.”
One of three boys of parents who had emigrated from Italy, he planned to enlist in the military after high school, he recalls. But as a senior, he began chatting with a pharmacist while picking up prescriptions for his grandfather.
That pharmacist, Gary Hildreth, a few years older than Grosso, had recently graduated from the Albany College of Pharmacy. He told Grosso to “really consider pharmacy” and took him to the college for an open house. Grosso matriculated that fall.
Hildreth died in 2012, but Grosso, now 66, calls the meeting “serendipitous” and said he has tried to emulate that example for other young people considering a pharmacy career.
“Helping other people, introducing people to different things, is worthwhile. That’s what keeps me going,” he says.
Pharmacy “has been a passion for 40-some years,” Grosso explains. Alongside that is a love of family. Grosso met his wife, Marylee, during freshman year in college while they were waiting in a bookstore line. Married since 1975, they have two children, David and Christopher, and five grandchildren ranging in age from 1 to 6.
“We’ve been a team effort for the last couple of decades,” he says of his wife.
Close friend Bill Shields, who worked with Grosso at Fays Drugs in the 1980s, says Grosso always has had vision.
“His strongest suit is that he thinks out of the box. He thinks of things other people wouldn’t try and will reach out of his comfort zone,” Shields says. “He was a great boss and even better friend for 30-plus years now.”
The Grossos moved to Columbia, MD, in the 1990s while Frank worked at a pharmacy company that became NeighborCare. In 2004, “the industry was changing again,” and Omnicare bought NeighborCare.
Grosso took a sabbatical for a year and the couple moved to Boston, where their elder son lives. The elder Grosso conducted trainings for Genesis periodically and spent large chunks of the year renovating an 1860s condo. He loves woodworking and also has worked on his lake house in New York.
When he returned to Genesis, Grosso was well-respected — and opinionated, says Mike Reitz, who retired as the Genesis COO in 2016.
“We had some healthy disagreements over the years. It was stimulating. I like working with people who say, ‘I don’t think that’s a very good idea,’ and Frank is one of those people,” Reitz says. “He has so much to offer.”
Remedi CEO Jeff Stamps, who has known Grosso for 15 years, describes him as “an intense patient advocate.
“His comments were always based on what was best for skilled nursing facilities,” Stamps says. “He’s a driven guy and he’s an advocate for long-term care residents.
Three years ago, Grosso was asked if he’d be interested in overseeing ASCP.
“I was up for the challenge,” he says. “I’m learning something new at the end of my career, and I wanted to give something back to the profession.”
He now lives in Alexandria, VA. He lost his dog of 14 years, Jack, last year, but until then the pair often walked to work together.
Grosso and his wife plan to retire in New England, but only after he spends a few more years in his ASCP role.
“My goal has been to make ASCP be recognized, and to discuss how we follow that patient from the nursing center back into the community,” he says.
Grosso brings a visionary perspective to ASCP, according to its board chairman, Nicki Brandt, PharmD, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.
“He has a strong vision of where he wants post-acute long-term care to go, with both the business angle and the clinical angle,” she says.
“He’s very much a people person in terms of listening to other people’s needs.”
Grosso says he’s proud of any pharmacist who has benefited from his guidance, much as Hildreth helped him many years ago.
“It’s how I got into this business — a pharmacist helping me. I see the number of pharmacists that I’ve been able to introduce to long-term care pharmacy and I’ve seen how they stay and grow in the industry,” Grosso says.
It’s not happening just by chance.
Completes degree at Albany College of Pharmacy, Union College
Serves as director of contract pharmacy services at Fay’s Drug Company in Syracuse
Becomes vice president of Pharmacy Operations at ASCO LTC Pharmacy, a division of Genesis Health Ventures
Promoted to senior vice president of pharmacy operations at Genesis
After a year away, returns to Genesis as corporate vice president
Becomes member of the American Health Care Association’s policy and advocacy committee; continues work as chairman of the AHCA Pharmacy Work Group
Named ASCP’S executive director and CEO