South Florida Hospital News
Wednesday April 14, 2021

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August 2017 - Volume 14 - Issue 2


Boca Raton Regional Hospital CEO Announces Retirement

Jerry Fedele, Boca Raton Regional Hospital President and CEO, announced at the beginning of the summer that he plans to retire in August 2018.

Since his arrival in 2008, Fedele has focused on restructuring and improving the then-financially challenged 400-bed hospital. In 2008, the hospital had lost $120 million. Gradually, Fedele helped the hospital turn its financial woes around and today, the hospital continues to grow and turn a profit. Under his leadership, Boca has built the Marcus Neuroscience Institute, the Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health and Wellness Institute, the Lynn Cancer Institute, and the Gloria Drummond Physical Rehabilitation Institute.
Fedele was also instrumental in helping the hospital establish the BocaCare Network of physicians, a group of urgent care centers, and an academic partnership with the Florida Atlantic University College of Medicine, where the hospital serves as the primary teaching site for internal medicine and general surgery residency programs.
He earned his Bachelors of Science in Mathematics and Master of Business Administration degrees with honors from the University of Pittsburgh and Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law, Pittsburgh, PA, where he was class valedictorian.
Fedele reflects over the time he has been with Boca as having two significant accomplishments from a macro perspective. The first was in 2008 when the hospital was losing money.
“I'm proud of saving the hospital. From 2008 to 2010, we went from losing $120 million to breaking even,” he says. “We saved the hospital from going out of business or being sold. That was a big accomplishment.”
But the period since then is what Fedele is most proud about. Once the hospital had been able to break even, it redefined its vision and elevated its prominence in the community.
“We've gone from not just saving a hospital but from taking what was a community hospital and turning it into one of the premier regional academic referral centers in South Florida,” says Fedele. “That's even more exciting because it's a path of fulfilling a vision and growth that is both fun to be a part of and serves our community even better.”
For Fedele, the most challenging time at Boca was not at the beginning but in 2012 when they suffered a setback after being on an upward trajectory for several years. After the first two years, the path to success was clear, but invariably, everything doesn't go as smoothly as you want it to go, he notes.
“When you have those times of challenge, as we did in 2012, it can cause you to reevaluate where you're going and whether or not you have the real commitment to the vision you have,” he adds. “2012 was a real challenging time as we took that first step back.”
Fedele credits his leadership team in navigating that rough period. One of the advantages that Fedele has as a leader is his ability to keep looking ahead to see the big picture of where both the hospital and the industry is headed. Once he has that vision for the future, he tries to bring together an extraordinarily talented team to steer it in the right direction.
“I’ve surrounded myself with a talented group of people,” he says. “I remember looking around the room one day in 2012 and telling them that we've made so much progress and we're just going to get over this hurdle as well. Everybody pulled together and we got over that and have been on just a real roll since then.”
The biggest thing that surprised Fedele during the past nine years at the hospital was the extraordinary commitment of the community to the hospital.
“I've been in healthcare for 30 years and had a 10-year career before healthcare,” he says. “I have never in my 40 years of professional experience seen a community that had such a feeling of ownership and commitment to a hospital as the Boca Raton community does for Boca Raton Regional Hospital. We have philanthropy that is clearly the pinnacle of any standalone community hospital in the United States. People just have a real passion for supporting this hospital.”
As he nears his retirement, Fedele says that there are two things that he will miss about being at Boca. The first is a hospital’s ability to help people. When he first entered healthcare, as a general counsel for West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA, someone told Fedele that he will love being there because he will leave work every day being so proud and fulfilled that you helped people. Fedele thought it was an odd comment at the time since he came from the industrial world prior to joining West Penn.
“As a lawyer coming from a commercial industrial setting into healthcare, his comment about helping people really didn't resonate with me at first,” he says.
About six months into his first healthcare position as a general counsel is when he started to realize that hospitals do something special that most other organizations in any other industry in the country don't have the opportunity to do.
“That's to help people in some of the most difficult times of their lives,” says Fedele. “No matter what position you hold in the hospital, whether you're a receptionist, a lawyer or environmental services, or certainly a nurse or a doctor, you have that unique privilege to really impact people. Throughout my 30 years in healthcare, I've gone home every day feeling good about what I do. I'm going to miss that feeling. That's something that becomes part of what I've done for the last three decades.”
The other thing that he'll miss most is the team of people he works with who he calls extremely talented and committed.
“I'm just going to miss the daily interaction with 2,500 employees who are all here for the same reasons,” he says.
Fedele has given his impending retirement some thought. He admits that he can't go from the very intense job he has now to not doing anything. He definitely plans to live in Boca Raton.
“As I've joked to a few people recently, for the last 10 years, this hospital has been my employer. For the next 10 years and beyond, it's going to be my medical provider,” he says with a laugh.
While he plans to do something a little less intense, Fedele doesn't anticipate he will have any trouble filling the time. As a lawyer by background who still has his law license, he says that he may do some legal work and perhaps some healthcare consulting. As for fun, he has a number of hobbies he plans to continue to pursue such as photography, biking, and traveling.
“My family is also growing,” he says. “I have three young adult children who are starting to have families of their own. In fact, my first grandchild just turned one recently so I plan to spend more time with family.”
As he reflects one last time on his tenure with Boca, Fedele is amazed at how quickly the past nine years have flown by.
“I will have been here for essentially one-fifth of the organization's existence—one decade out of five,” he says. “There's no question I'm leaving it in a better position than I found it. More importantly than saving the hospital, we've redefined the vision for this hospital to be the preeminent hospital in South Florida. We've come a long way to realize that vision. There’s more work to be done, but I think it's on a great trajectory.”

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