Hospital Show Choir Hits Happy, Healthy Notes with Employees, Patients, Arts Community

Pictured above are members of The Christ Hospital’s employee show choir, 98.6 Degrees, ArtsWave judges, and others involved in the 2017 CincySings competition. Front row, kneeling, from left: Dylan Niergarth, The Christ Hospital Physicians – Ear, Nose & Throat; Virginia Fritz, Employee Health & Disability; Mark Johnston, Heart Center Administration; and Rock Tarrance, Grounds and Transportation. Second row, from left: Janelle Gelfand, judge; John Morris Russell, judge; and Dotrye Harris, RedBank Urgent Care. Third row, from left: Kathy Wade, judge; Linda Reynolds, IT; Wanda Hinton, Cardiac Cath Recovery Unit; Carissa Carpenter, PT/OT; and Drew Lachey, emcee. Back row, from left: Bob Herzog, judge; Susie Dierling, Food and Nutrition Services; Karen Clenney, HR/Benefits; Scarlett Monday, The Christ Hospital Physicians – Ohio Heart & Vascular; Matthew Bracey, Safety and Security; Damien Lass, Accenture; and Alecia Kintner, ArtsWave.

Photography provided by ArtsWave


The positive notes resonating from The Christ Hospital’s 12-member show choir, 98.6 Degrees, continue to benefit hospital employees, patients and the local arts community. Competing in the annual CincySings competition, the group took the top spot in the Grand Champion and Fan Favorite categories earlier this year.

“We’ve become a family,” says Karen J. Clenney, choir director and employee benefits coordinator for The Christ Hospital Health Network. “It was so wonderful to see how individuals came together from across the organization to create something enjoyed by so many. We all bonded over our love for music and, in the end, have built lifelong connections. The spirit carried beyond the team to all employees at the hospital, with many individuals taking the time to attend the events and cheer us on.”

According to Paul Gelter, vice president of enterprise performance and administration, employees are encouraged to get involved in community initiatives like CincySings as well as through The Christ Hospital’s Workforce Engagement Group, Young Professionals Group and the Diversity Council. “It’s an important part of our culture,” Gelter says. “There’s no doubt that well-rounded, happy employees drive the exceptional patient experience rankings we receive as an organization.”

Now in its fourth year, CincySings, sponsored by ArtsWave and recognized as a national model for employee engagement by
Americans for the Arts, includes some of the region’s largest businesses. “Think of it as ‘Glee’ meets Employee Choir,” Clenney says.

The choirs are judged on stage presence, creativity, vocal quality and overall performance. Serious stuff, yes, but the competition is also about having fun. Just consider the hospital choir’s name – 98.6 Degrees.

“People think we stole it,” Clenney says with a chuckle, referring to 98 Degrees, the boy band juggernaut of the 1990s that included brothers Nick and Drew Lachey, and Justin Jeffre, their friend from Cincinnati’s School for Creative and Performing Arts. “Our philosophy was, ‘Hey, you got it wrong, folks. Normal body temperature is 98.6.’ ”

Clenney recalls learning about CincySings. “We thought, ‘Gee, we do have a lot of talented employees. We could put together a group for the sing-offs between area businesses and their choirs.’ ”

The group’s first CincySings performance in 2016 featured songs that focused on The Christ Hospital’s service lines: Women’s Health (“Isn’t She Lovely,” by Stevie Wonder); Geriatrics (“Everybody Hurts Sometimes,” by REM); Oncology(“I Hope You Dance,” by Lee Ann Womack); Cardiac, (“Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” by Stephen Sondheim); Joint and Spine (“Footloose” by Kenny Loggins); and “Roar” (by Katy Perry), a musical nod to heart patients and others overcoming health challenges.

The show choir put all its energy into one song this year, performing One Republic’s “Love Runs Out,” an uplifting tune about faith remaining when love disappears. The singers began rehearsals immediately after Christmas, logging numerous hours of their own personal time to prepare for the  semifinals in March. Next up for 98.6 Degrees is a performance at Great American Ball Park July 21 when the Reds host the Miami Marlins. The choir also performs at a variety of events at the hospital and other venues in the community.

An added benefit: 98.6 Degrees spans a good mix of ages within its membership, ranging from 25 to 62.

“The way I look at it, the younger members keep us older members young, and we give them our knowledge,” Clenney says. “It’s been a learning experience for all of us. The day we stop wanting to learn is the day we start to die.”


The Christ Hospital is located at 2139 Auburn Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45219. For more information, visit