Dr. Fred Cerise, an internal medicine physician and former secretary of Louisiana's health department, has been named CEO of Parkland Health & Hospital System
Cerise's position is still subject to final contract negotiations, so his official starting date hasn't been determined, said Debbie Dudley Branson, chairwoman of Parkland's Board of Managers. Dudley Branson told Modern Healthcare that six members of the seven-member board voted for Cerise, while one member abstained. Cerise, 51, was chosen from among three candidates after a lengthy search.
Cerise made headlines in 2012 when LSU System President William Jenkins removed him from his position as VP for health affairs and medical education and placed him in a newly created position. At the time, reports suggested differences between Cerise and Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal over the state's safety net hospital system.
“I like the fact that, aside from a CEO, he has been an outspoken advocate for public healthcare and its importance to communities,” Dudley Branson said in a Parkland announcement about Cerise. “I want him to bring that passion to Parkland and I am convinced he will.”
The public hospital—widely known as the facility that treated President John F. Kennedy after he was shot in November 1963—has been without a permanent CEO since August 2011, when Dr. Ron Anderson was reassigned to a different position
. In September of that year, Parkland began a Systems Improvement Agreement with the CMS after the federal agency concluded in a review that Parkland needed to make improvements in quality, safety and the standard of care for its patients.
Ron Laxton, Parkland's COO, told Modern Healthcare this week that Parkland successfully completed the Systems Improvement Agreement last August. In the system's announcement about Cerise, Dudley Branson thanked Robert Smith for his service as interim CEO, saying he provided the “turnaround leadership” that the system needed at the time.
A Louisiana native, Cerise has had extensive experience in large public hospital systems. Since last year, he has served as associate dean for clinical affairs at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans School of Medicine . Cerise was the VP for health affairs and medical education at LSU from 2007 until 2012, a role he took after he served as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals for three years. Former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, a Democrat, appointed him to that role in 2004. Perhaps most notably, Cerise led statewide efforts to establish healthcare for Louisiana residents following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he earned a master's degree in public health from the Harvard and completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.Follow Jessica Zigmond on Twitter: @MHjzigmond