A Letter From Boca Regional’s CEO Jerry Fedele

Boca Raton Regional Hospital. Photo by Aaron Bristol.

This letter was written by the CEO of Boca Raton Regional Hospital Jerry Fedele in response to a post written by our publisher, John Shuff, on the future of the hospital. Fedele gave Boca mag permission to post the letter.

Dear John,

I read your recent commentary regarding a possible strategic partnership between Boca Raton Regional Hospital and another healthcare system. While I greatly value your support of Boca Regional and the personal friendship we’ve developed over the past ten years, I believe your characterization and assumptions related to the initiative warrant a degree of context and clarification.

In both the headline of the piece and its lead paragraph, you state that the endeavor we have undertaken should be characterized as a “sale” of the institution rather than a desired “partnership.”

If this proposed initiative was indeed a simple sale of the hospital, we would negotiate a price with a suitor and much like one does with the sale of a home or car, turn over the keys and have the buyer do what they would with their purchase. In our case, nothing could be further from the truth.

We embarked on this initiative from a position of strength and a desire to implement a sustainable, long-term strategy for the benefit of the hospital and the community we serve. Our goal is to keep abreast of the changes occurring in a fast-paced, dynamic industry such as ours. A sale would be more in keeping with the need to secure a short–term solution to a pressing immediate need. Ours is a plan to build on the great success we’ve enjoyed over the last eight years and to elevate and accelerate our role as a preeminent regional referral medical center.

As we have said from the outset of this exploration, we have conveyed to potential not-for-profit partners a series of essential elements that we are looking for in any relationship. This initiative is about the betterment of Boca Raton Regional Hospital and, by extension, our community. Thus, the elements include: further developing as the preeminent regional health system and academic tertiary provider in South Florida, accessing capital to meet current and future investment needs, strengthening and expanding clinical offerings, respecting both a private practice and integrated medical staff that is synergistic with academic medicine, respecting the founding and support of the Debbie-Rand Memorial Service League, perpetuating community support through volunteerism, philanthropy and legacy naming designations and retaining meaningful local governance and influence.

Not the kind of list you would associate with a sale.

Your article alludes to the possibility that tertiary and quaternary clinical services such as cardiovascular care may be shunted out of the region or to other partner facilities. Given the caliber of our specialty services in such areas as cardiovascular care, oncology, the neurosciences, orthopedics and women’s health, that is certainly not our expectation. We have worked hard and invested much in the last 10 years to evolve from a capable community hospital to a tertiary, regional referral center that is in the vanguard of today’s medicine. Our U.S. News & World Report designation as a Top Ranked Regional Hospital is strong testimony to that effort and success. Clearly, we have no intention to backslide in our status through any partnership. Rather, it is our goal to be the centerpiece for any system’s presence in the region.

Your article also draws attention to our Foundation, its oversight and who “decides what entities in the city receive grants from it?” The idea that an outside entity could have say in the disbursement of its funds is posited.

Here again, clarification is needed. Our Foundation exists solely to support the needs of Boca Raton Regional Hospital and the patients we serve, not outside entities or charities. The philanthropic support we receive is used to acquire cutting-edge technology, build phenomenal facilities and expand or enhance clinical programming at Boca Regional. Our Hospital was built out of the largess of the community, sustained by it and its renaissance was fueled by it. This will not change. In fact, we expect the robust contributions we have received throughout our history, especially in recent years, to grow exponentially and continue to enhance the trajectory of the organization in myriad ways.

Further, the oversight of the allocation of those funds is guided by the Foundation’s Board, which is made up of our community’s most significant philanthropists and civic leaders whose sole interest is the betterment of our institution…period. Our potential partners recognize this and the role the Foundation plays in the oversight of gifts. Here again, our expectations are to continue this outstanding tradition of stewardship that is so ingrained in the fabric of the organization.

You do make a very salient point when you state that things change, times change and that change is inevitable. Those thoughts are especially true when it comes to healthcare. The headwinds in healthcare are daunting. In response, Boca Raton Regional Hospital has opted to act from a position of strength to pursue an opportunity to secure and enhance its position in the region…now and in the years to come. We cannot ignore these headwinds. We must adapt to them in an ambitious yet thoughtful and sound manner. Failure to do so would invite future challenges of a magnitude that could prove to be insurmountable.

Will there be changes at the Hospital as a result of a partnership? No doubt. Yet productive and positive change has been the hallmark of our leadership team since 2008. Changes that have delivered Boca Raton Regional Hospital from some of the greatest challenges encountered in over 50 years to the reputation and position it deservedly enjoys today.

I realize there is always give-and-take in any true and mutually rewarding partnership. But in the final analysis, a partnership will make Boca Regional better, stronger and more capable…all to the benefit of those who turn to the Hospital and our doctors for care.

I appreciate your attention to these comments, John, and your receptiveness to a response to your piece. They are in keeping with the mandate our Board established to maintain the utmost transparency throughout the partnership process and our intent to ensure that productive dialogue is welcomed and maintained with anyone interested in the matter.

Jerry J. Fedele
President & CEO