Boca Raton (Fla.) Community Hospital has given control to its third chief executive officer in less than a year as the 394-bed Florida hospital struggles to contain financial losses that topped $100 million in the past fiscal year.
Jerry Fedele, who was appointed Oct. 1 as president and CEO of the hospital, acknowledged the difficult task that lies before him. Its a very significant challenge. But its a challenge Im addressing with enthusiasm and high optimism, Fedele said. There is absolutely no question that it is doable.
Fedele replaced former President and CEO Rick Van Lith, who was hired in January to replace Gary Strack. Fedele spent four years at five-hospital West Penn Allegheny Health System helping it merge facilities and restructure its debt before leaving in July 2007.
West Penn has had other C-suite executives leave in recent months and this summer announced it had to take a $73 million accounting write-off (Sept. 29, p. 4).
Also hired by Boca Raton on Oct. 1 was Karen Poole, 60, who will serve as chief operating officer. Both Fedele and Poole came from FTI Healthcare, a consulting firm retained by the Boca Raton hospital as part of its financial recovery plan. Hospital board chairman Richard Schmidt said the hospital was viewing the appointments as permanent and not a hired gun team, although it was not clear whether they were still actually FTI employees. John Siedlecki, FTIs senior managing director, would not comment, citing confidentiality in the firms ongoing agreement with the hospital. Although the firm offers interim executives as one of its services, Siedlecki said at least one of their executive placements has proven to be stable over a number of years.
The hospital reported a net loss of $116 million for fiscal 2008, including a one-time write-down of $51 million related to the hospital boards decision to cancel all work on a planned 530-bed academic health center at Florida Atlantic Universitys Boca Raton campus. The hospital has a $31 million budgeted operating loss for fiscal 2009 and could be considering workforce reductions, but Schmidt said the hospitals foundation still has a nice cushion of $140 million as it builds on recent success in its turnaround plan.