South Florida Hospital News
Thursday August 6, 2020

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June 2016 - Volume 12 - Issue 12


Aurelio Fernandez Promoted to CEO of Memorial Healthcare System

Following a public search that lasted several months, Aurelio M. Fernandez, III, FACHE, chief operating officer of Memorial Healthcare System for the past four years, was promoted to the position of president and CEO. It was a move applauded by many of the employees and members of the community because they wanted the next CEO to come from within.

“We all felt that it should be filled by an internal candidate because we wanted to ensure the culture of the organization was preserved,” says Fernandez. “I knew the dynamics of the organization, what needed to happen and how everything fitted into the overall strategy of the organization.”
Most of all, Fernandez says that he wanted to continue on the journey that Memorial had set out for the past ten years - to become the safest healthcare delivery system in the United States, putting the patient first and being able to become a destination site for a variety of services whether it’s cardiology, oncology, neurosciences, pediatrics, or rehabilitation services.
“Our mission is simple - to heal the body, mind and spirit of those we touch,” says Fernandez. “Everyone in this organization knows the meaning of that mission.”
Fernandez takes over for former CEO Frank Sacco who retired after a more than 40-year career. Fernandez, who was born in Havana, Cuba and a resident of South Florida for the past 55 years, has been a healthcare professional for over 40 years in the Tri-County market. Nine years ago he joined Memorial Hospital Miramar as CEO. He was promoted to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the Memorial Healthcare System in 2012.
Prior to joining Memorial Healthcare System, Fernandez spent 11 years in a variety of positions with Tenet Healthcare, including CEO at Hialeah Hospital and Florida Medical Center as well as Executive Director for Tenet Network Management. During the 1990’s, Fernandez was CEO of Palm-Med Health Services specializing in physician ventures as well as actively participating in organizing physician hospital organizations.
One of Fernandez’s goals moving forward is to continue to shape and mold Memorial into a regional healthcare destination. Fernandez believes that there is no reason for anyone in South Florida to leave the region to address their healthcare needs.
“We want this to be a place where patients seek our services because of the safety and quality of the care that is being provided,” says Fernandez. “Differentiating ourselves as the safest healthcare delivery system is one of my main objectives. We do that by engaging our staff - 12,000 employees and 2,000 physicians - by creating educational opportunities, as well as investing significant dollars in technology to assure the care that is being provided is as safe as possible.”
What distinguishes Memorial from other healthcare systems statewide and nationally, according to Fernandez, is the culture that permeates throughout the organization. He points to its low turnover rate.
“We have a huge retention percentage of our employees,” he says. “That’s because our investment is in our people, our most valuable resource. We invest a lot in people and their education so we can enhance their ability to better themselves. When you invest in your people, it pays off by creating an environment where people look forward to coming to work and caring for those who seek our services. When you have a happy workforce, you tend to provide a different type of care — a more compassionate and meaningful level of care.”
Another factor that distinguishes Memorial in the healthcare field, notes Fernandez, is its Patient-Family Center of Care philosophy within the organization where family members are encouraged to be with the patient at all times.
“Who knows that patient better than a family member or a spouse, grandmother, sister or broth-er? You will never hear at our hospitals that visiting hours are over,” says Fernandez. “We encourage family members to stay with the patients for the duration of their admission. We encourage them to be with the patient preoperatively or even stay with them after the surgery in the recovery room.”
As one of his first and many initiatives, Fernandez hopes to continue to attract talented physicians to the area. In fact, Memorial plans to open a graduate medical education program for physician residents next summer.
“Medical students will be able to do their medical residency and rotations through our system. By providing that kind of environment, the South Florida market should benefit by having more physicians stay in the area where they are trained,” Fernandez says. “Through this approach, we can train physicians to put the patient first and how to communicate with the patient.”

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