My Turn: The Fedele Effect

Terry and Jerry Fedele

As Jerry Fedele nears his retirement as Boca Hospital’s CEO, we send him off with thanks for a job well done

This fall the city and its beloved Boca Raton Regional Hospital will lose a man who has devoted the last 10-plus years to rebuilding and shepherding the hospital into the ever-changing world of health care. Jerry Fedele, BRRH CEO, will sail off into the sunset, leaving the helm of the flagship community asset that he has steered through some rough waters.

If leaders got grades, then the sentiment of Fedele’s hospital board members speaks volumes. They unequivocally give the quiet man from Pittsburgh an A-plus. Personally, I wish I had served on the board to be in the company of such a fine executive. Many arms of the hospital have benefited from its resurrection to excellence, including the volunteer arm of the hospital, The Debbie-Rand Memorial Service League and the Boca Raton Hospital Foundation under the leadership of Mark Larkin.

I don’t know the Fedeles well, although both he and his wife, Terry, are popular community leaders, and always a pleasure to be with. He always comments about the annual Notre Dame (my alma mater) and University of Pittsburgh (his) football matchup, and I know he liked living here in Boca from the start. Michael Kaufman, CEO of Kaufman Lynn Construction, once told me, “I asked Jerry about his observations about Boca. He responded, ‘Have you ever seen a city that has two garbage pickups a week?’” That’s a take on Boca that I’ve never heard before—but I’m also glad we have two pickups.

But what defines a superb executive is what Fedele has done in his tenure at BRRH. There’s no question he has hired smartly and well, paid his team competitively and given them the autonomy to do their jobs. As a result, BRRH has been rated as one of the five best in the state, and its open-heart program is No. 1. Rankings are subjective, but the excellence is measured from the bottom to the top—not the reverse. He gets high grades from the staff, his board and the community. He and Terry have been and are at every hospital event representing his institution.

I was in the emergency room on a Saturday night in January as the result of a fall. The facility was bustling with patients needing attention. Rather than the usual five-to-six-hour wait I’ve experienced in other situations, I was taken immediately to have a CT scan, examined by Dr. Norton and released within two hours, after the brain scan was deemed negative.

You don’t find that alacrity in ERs at most hospitals. But our hospital is run by Fedele’s operating philosophy of multiplying himself through his people—from bottom to top. He is a constant innovator and has brought ideas that have streamlined efficiency and delivery of patient care.

Fedele also initiated BocaCare, a group of urgent care facilities with a network of physicians. He led the hospital in forming a partnership with BRRH and FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine. His final act was to oversee the merger/sale of BRRH to the Baptist Hospital Group, which he deemed prudent in light of today’s rapidly changing health care landscape.

BRRH’s standing in the state and its reputation for excellent care has prompted generous giving that has resulted in the building of the Marcus Neurological Institute and the Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health and Wellness Institute. Elaine Wold donated generously to build a much-needed modern emergency room as well as the Gloria Drummond Physical Rehabilitation Institute. People give when they see excellence; they are proud to be associated with it.

Nothing else needs to be said. We say goodbye to a superb executive. Not sadly, but with the knowledge that he brought a floundering institution to heights far above many people’s expectations. He delivered more than he promised—and we will miss him.

This story is from our March/April 2019 issue of Boca magazine. For more content like this, subscribe to the magazine.