Investing in premier healthcare systems around the world isn’t just a way to create a profitable enterprise. It’s a way to have the presence, the platform and the means to help people at home and abroad. “We’re in a position where we can actually make a difference,” says MPT Chairman, President and CEO Edward K. Aldag, Jr., “whether we’re doing it with our financial resources or our people resources.”
MPT starts within the walls of its offices, ensuring employees feel valued with great benefits and plenty of health and wellness options. At its headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama, employees can access a convenient and safe gym, and they get an allowance for membership at other workout facilities. Employees can use concierge doctor services for the best care at their convenience, and they have access to top-tier insurance coverage for health, secondary health, vision, dental and life. “We’re getting people the best plans we can at prudent, affordable prices,” notes Cassie Cates, MPT human resources manager.
Employees enjoy other perks too, including stock-based compensation. But access to such great benefits doesn’t come easy. First, the employees have to get hired by MPT. “I’m glad I didn’t know what a rigorous process it was when I started,” says Bob McLean, laughing. He recently came on board to head MPT’s new office in Sydney, Australia.
Each prospective MPT employee undergoes a rigorous interview process to assess how well the candidate will fit into the culture and perform. The on-staff hiring process includes time with an industrial psychologist who not only assesses prospects as employees but also helps them craft professional goals and development plans when they’re hired. Cates points out that as employees grow in their roles at MPT, they’re also given professional development training, including seminars on topics that range from diversity training to sexual harassment. They also have opportunities to grow their skills and maintain certifications, whether it’s a CPA designation or a law degree.
The MPT mission, mindset and positive workplace environment filter down from Aldag, who believes business is ultimately about people. As chairman of the board of directors and president and CEO of the company, he has implemented best practices of corporate governance, including a 75% independent board of directors, unclassified board structure and majority voting in uncontested elections.
The board has a history of diversity and is currently composed of 25% female members (fully 33% of non-founder directors). It is committed to frequent refreshment of independent directors, and almost two-thirds of its members have a tenure of five years or less and an average age of about 58. Made up of members with a mix of business experience and skills, the board has adopted bold governance standards that include a mandatory retirement age for directors.
MPT’s care for its employees helps them enjoy life away from the office too, where most do volunteer work with area nonprofits or other worthy causes. MPT helps by giving a paid-time-off day each year for employees to devote to the charitable organization of their choice. “We have really good people with really good values, and they really care about the community,” says Tom Schultz, MPT director of healthcare and a member of the MPT Charity Committee. “There’s a culture and attitude of giving here, and it goes from the top down.”
Schultz points to MPT COO Emmett E. McLean’s heavy involvement with charitable work in Birmingham. In turn, McLean recounts the instance when Aldag upped a planned and already sizable contribution to the Kiwanis Club because he wanted to provide leadership in the community to champion the organization’s worthy cause.
Following Aldag’s lead, the MPT Charity Committee awards funds in large and small amounts to worthy groups in Birmingham and in far-flung places. In Chad, for instance, a new well provides a community with clean drinking water, thanks to a $6,000 gift MPT made to a nonprofit called Neverthirst. Closer to home, MPT committed to fund $3.5 million over three years to help build a hospital in rural Alabama without which residents in the surrounding communities would go without hospital healthcare. The company has made a similar commitment to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
The spirit of giving at MPT overflows to individual contributions of time and talent. “You’d be hard-pressed to find someone at MPT who doesn’t do volunteer work of some type in our community,” says Schultz.
The company prides itself on supporting a broad spectrum of Birmingham-based institutions and organizations—from Children’s of Alabama and the respected research hospital at UAB to educational groups like the Jones Valley Teaching Farm, which offers a food-based, hands-on curriculum to 4,500 public school students to enrich their understanding of food, farming and the culinary arts. “What they’re really doing is changing kids’ lives,” McLean says. “They’re providing after-school internships, career path opportunities and even college scholarships.”
“It’s proven if you can get in the school and do things for children, then it’s going to impact their health forever,” adds Alison Schmidt, MPT managing director, Financial Planning and a member of the Charity Committee.
Schmidt’s also on the board of The Bell Center, which offers early intervention for children up to age 3 who have a range of diagnoses and special needs. “It’s really, really unique. There are not very many places in the country that do what they do. The results that they have achieved are just magnificent,” Schmidt says. She’s proud that MPT helped fund a new facility for the center so it can better serve the 105 children in its program. In addition to a substantial capital gift toward construction costs of the new building, MPT made a $15,000 commitment to the center’s operating budget in 2019 and funded its annual $3,000 scholarship for one child to attend the program.
MPT also contributes to the community through efforts such as buying jerseys for local youth sports teams and supporting the arts via organizations like the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and the Birmingham Museum of Art. “We do it because it’s good for the community,” McLean says. Such disparate causes all affect the well-being of the community, physically, emotionally and fiscally.
From providing challenge grants for groups such as the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Vincent’s Hospital, an endeavor that raised about $25,000, to offering starter funds for locals who present their cases before the Charity Committee, MPT looks for strategic ways to help local people trying to make a difference. “The only way you’re going to start something and make it bigger is to start small,” says McLean about why MPT makes $1,000 and $2,000 contributions to startup nonprofits. He and the members of the Charity Committee relish the times when a group that received startup funds returns to MPT five years later, still growing and with bigger goals and bigger results. It means the Charity Committee at MPT made a wise decision to help them in the first place.
“We do most of our charity locally, but it has international impact,” Schultz says, pointing to contributions to the American Heart Association and to the UAB Comprehensive Diabetes Center, both of which can have international influence. Zac Riddle, MPT assistant controller and Charity Committee member, notes that the Luxembourg office brought a great project to MPT: Chaîne de l’Espoir, or The Chain of Hope. This organization flies children into Luxembourg for life-changing surgeries. MPT has helped support the operation almost from the initial opening of its Luxembourg office, with a single employee.
“So, as we go around the world, we do that kind of thing,” Schultz says. With the new presence in Australia, Schultz and Bob McLean, who’ll run the office there, will meet with new partner Healthscope to discuss not only operations, but also ways the Charity Committee could help Down Under. In the Caribbean, MPT has helped fund a mobile medical clinic in Haiti, part of a nonprofit called LiveBeyond that’s run by the physician son-in-law of former University of Alabama Head Football Coach Gene Stallings.
Many of the good works and contributions funded by MPT have an Alabama connection or personal ties to the employees of MPT. “If it’s important to our employees, it’s important to MPT,” Schmidt says.
By following the hearts and leads of the people MPT hires, the company discovers the worthiest of causes and ways to make the biggest of differences. The company vets the groups seeking their support, even conducting site visits, to ensure every dollar MPT gives will be well spent. That gives shareholders confidence that the same care taken with business acquisitions and day-to-day operations goes into decisions about giving.