South Florida Hospital News
Wednesday November 20, 2019
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October 2006 - Volume 3 - Issue 4

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For Alan Levine, the Future is Now

When Alan Levine, the recently named president and CEO of the North Broward Hospital District, was profiled in an August issue of Modern Healthcare magazine as one of 30 leaders in the nation likely to have a powerful impact on the future of health care, it was quite an honor.

Perhaps the only critique of that assessment is that it was too conservative. The 39-year-old executive already has positively impacted health care in Florida and is determined to continue to do so for the South Florida community.

"We have the ability to become a nationally recognized system," said Levine, who assumed his position in July. "Our stroke center, for example, is one of only three Comprehensive Stroke Centers in Florida recognized by the Agency for Health Care Accreditation. Our foster care program also is very strong. There are amazing things going on here. There is so much we already do that the public doesn’t know about. The challenge is how to harness the efforts of our team and continue to develop our system."

The North Broward Hospital District has been providing service for more than 50 years. The tax-assisted community health system offers a full spectrum of healthcare services. The District encompasses more than 30 healthcare facilities, including Broward General Medical Center, North Broward Medical Center, Imperial Point Medical Center, Coral Springs Medical Center, Chris Evert Children’s Hospital and Western Regional HealthPark. It is the fourth largest not-for-profit public healthcare systems in the nation according to Modern Healthcare magazine.

"My biggest challenge is learning my way around, listening to the doctors, the employees and board members to determine a baseline of where we are and how to move forward," Levine said.

The North Broward Hospital District – serving two-thirds of a county of nearly 1.8 million residents – is not without its challenges. But Levine acknowledges them with determination and enthusiasm.

"Twenty percent of the people using our system are uninsured," he said. "We treat thousands of individuals in our clinics. We have a responsibility to our community and we take it seriously."

Broward County – which includes the greater Fort Lauderdale area – is home to many people from the Caribbean and Central and South America. Recently, the county became a "minority majority" with African-American, Caribbean and Hispanic residents now outnumbering white residents.

"I’m excited about our potential to positively impact these populations, where the health disparities are great compared to the white community," he said. "For example, the infant mortality rates are three times higher. What we are trying to do to close that gap is phenomenal. By providing good preventive care, we save large amounts of money by providing care before patients they need an emergency room. We are trying to be prudent with the tax dollars entrusted to us."

There is sincerity to Levine’s commitment to quality care provided as fiscally responsible as possible, a commitment sparked at a young age and forged through a series of highly responsible professional positions.

"My desire to work in healthcare goes back a long time," said Levine. "My mother died suddenly when I was six. I decided I wanted to be a doctor. That lasted until my freshman year in college, when I took chemistry. I decided being a doctor wasn’t in the cards."

"Still, I felt health care was my calling. The thought of helping people excited me; it’s a rewarding career," he said. "Even now, there are many moments when I say this is why I did it: having a nurse share a thank you note or just standing with a family in the hospital and knowing you can help them."

Levine received a bachelor’s degree in health education in 1990, and a master’s degree in business administration and a master’s in health services in 1992 from the University of Florida.

Levine was 29 when he was appointed chief executive officer of Doctor’s Memorial Hospital in Perry, Florida. He later served as chief executive officer of South Bay Hospital in Sun City Center, Florida, prior to being tapped by Governor Jeb Bush to serve as Deputy Chief of Staff Senior Health Policy Advisor for the Governor of Florida.

In July, 2004, Levine was appointed by Governor Bush to serve as Secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration—the state’s health financing, regulatory and policy agency. With a budget of more than $16 billion, the Agency oversees and operates the Florida Medicaid program, licenses and regulates more than 25,000 healthcare facilities and 25 health maintenance organizations, and publishes healthcare data and statistics.

"I loved serving as AHCA Secretary and I worked for whom I believe is the best governor in the country," he said. "I had worked as a CEO and ran both a for-profit and nonprofit facility. But as Secretary, I saw a cross section of Florida I couldn’t have imagined. It gave me a whole different perspective. The health care system is very fragmented, with lots of silos. From a public policy perspective, it seems to be a fight over limited resources: How much money is available and who is going to get it.

"As CEO in a prior position, I was in that fight over money. Now I see that my system has to present something of value to have state support. We are not entitled to be in business. If we can’t do a better job of taking care of people in Broward County, we shouldn’t be in business."

While Secretary, Levine orchestrated Florida’s 2005 Medicaid overhaul. The reform plan is being tested in two Florida counties, Broward and Duval. He also established the first web site of its kind, floridacomparecare.gov, creating a more transparent healthcare system through mandatory public reporting of health provider outcomes. Levine also worked to implement privacy-protected electronic medical records for all Floridians, and advance hurricane and disaster preparedness for Florida’s healthcare system.

Now at North Broward Hospital District, Levine is working with the board, physicians and staff to improve the quality and reach of the care provided.

"What we are trying to do," says Levine, "is become the place about which people in South Florida say, ‘That’s where I want to be’ and for the doctors to say, ‘I don’t want to practice any place else.’"

For more information, visit www.Browardhealth.org or call (954) 759-7400.
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