Big Changes At Boca Regional Hospital: Partnership In Place, New CEO Coming

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By: Dale King Contributing Writer

Some of the most significant changes in the 52-year history of Boca Raton Regional Hospital are happening right now at the main building on Meadows Road and its affiliated departments on the central campus and associated facilities nearby.

Barely a month ago, BRRH and Baptist Health South Florida announced they had signed a definitive agreement creating a strategic partnership between the two organizations. This pact solidifies their plans for affiliation, which is expected to be completed in the early summer. Both Boca Regional Hospital and Baptist Health are not-for-profit organizations with a long history of compassion and commitment to the communities they serve.

In addition, officials at Boca Regional Hospital announced the appointment of Lincoln S. Mendez as its new chief executive officer following the retirement of Jerry Fedele. The veteran BRRH plans to step down next month.

Actually, Fedele, who was part of the team that stepped in a decade or so ago to pull BRRH out of financial quagmire that threatened the stability of the facility, planned to retire last August when he reached the age of 65. Hospital officials asked him to remain until the partnership with another medical center was worked out.

Boca Regional Hospital had also launched a quarter-billion dollar expansion and renovation program that recently kicked off with groundbreaking for a new parking garage and will continue with new facilities, including a nine-story patient tower to be named after hospital founder Gloria Drummond.

“We are excited about this significant step in the journey we embarked on in 2017,” said Fedele, who is both CEO and president of BRRH. “The agreement [with Baptist South] was enthusiastically endorsed by an unanimous vote of our board, and we are looking forward to continuing with Baptist Health on the path toward elevating the healthcare we provide for our communities.”

“Our organizations share similar cultures, values and expectations for excellence that are essential for a great partnership that is focused on increasing access to high-quality care across South Florida,” Fedele added.

A seasoned and accomplished healthcare executive, Mendez comes to his new position after serving as chief executive officer at South Miami Hospital, part of the Baptist Health system. During his tenure, South Miami Hospital earned national accolades for its quality, innovation and clinical excellence.

South Miami Hospital also witnessed significant growth in its facilities, technology and program offerings.

Mendez is also well-respected by board members, physicians, employees and his peers. “Mr. Mendez provides the depth of experience and executive skill sets that are tailor-made to lead Boca Regional in its continued ascent to becoming one of the premier, tertiary academic medical centers in Florida,” said Christine E. Lynn, Boca Raton Regional Hospital Board chair.

“We are supremely confident in his ability to continue the most positive momentum and trajectory of our hospital that was established and sustained by Jerry Fedele.”

“Our collaboration has reinforced the common vision for carrying out our mission of delivering compassionate, exceptional care to our patients and families,” said Brian E. Keeley, president and CEO of the Baptist Health network.

“Baptist Health has grown strategically in recent years to meet the needs of our communities, and [the finalization of an agreement with BRRH] brings us one step closer to completing our much-anticipated affiliation with Boca Raton Regional Hospital. With Lincoln’s leadership, we believe this partnership will be mutually beneficial to our respective organizations and, most of all, for the many people we serve across four counties.”

Boca Raton Regional Hospital first announced in 2017 its intent to seek a strategic partner. At the time, Fedele said that given the growing demand for its services, along with the hospital’s expansion of programs and facilities and improvement of financial performance, it was an opportune time to seek a partner that would help it sustain and build upon its commitment to accessible, affordable and high-quality care delivery throughout the region.

“Our goal was to use our success in recent years to attract other providers and establish a partnership that would enhance our capabilities and mitigate the challenges of a stand-alone hospital in a complex and evolving healthcare industry,” Fedele said.

After issuing a request for proposals and receiving responses from some of the nation’s foremost healthcare systems, Boca Regional narrowed its list of suitors from 12 to five in the spring of 2018 and then selected Baptist Health South Florida for further discussions.

Assessment of candidates looking to associate with BRRH included site visits among the respective organizations; intense dialogue and meetings involving medical staff leadership, senior executives, board members and volunteers.

Boca Raton Regional Hospital chose Baptist Health Center South as a potential partner in a move to “accelerate and elevate” the hospital’s position” as a respected medical center in South Florida, said Lynn.

“We stand on the cusp of making a monumental transformation for Boca Raton Regional Hospital,” she said. “A transformation that will serve to secure and cement our role as a top-tier healthcare provider for our community and our region.”

Boca Raton Regional Hospital is a 400-bed medical tertiary care facility with more than 800 primary and specialty physicians on staff. As defined by Johns Hopkins University, a tertiary care facility specializes in consultative care, usually on referral from primary or secondary medical care personnel, by specialists working in a center that has personnel and facilities for special investigation and treatment.

“Our goal was to use our success in recent years to attract other providers and establish a partnership that would enhance our capabilities and mitigate the challenges of a stand-alone hospital in a complex and evolving healthcare industry,” said Fedele.

Baptist Health South Florida is the largest healthcare organization in the region, with 10 hospitals, more than 40 physician practices, 50 outpatient and urgent care facilities, Baptist Health Medical Group, Baptist Health Quality Network and internationally respected centers of excellence spanning Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.