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Tufts Medical Center Chief Ellen Zane To Retire

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Outgoing Tufts Medical Center CEO Ellen Zane
Outgoing Tufts Medical Center CEO Ellen Zane

Tufts Medical Center CEO Ellen Zane to retire in September; Search for New CEO Planned

Zane and team credited with transforming the academic medical center

Zane will serve as a Vice Chairman of institution’s Board of Trustees

BOSTON (Feb. 17) – Ellen Zane, president and CEO of Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children for more than seven transformative years, announced today that she will retire from her current role in the fall. Zane will continue to consult with the hospital for a year after her retirement and will serve as a Vice Chairman of its Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees will begin a comprehensive search for a new CEO to lead the organization into a new era.

“While I look forward to enjoying retirement, this decision is a bittersweet one for me,” Zane said. “I am so proud of what my team and I have accomplished at Tufts Medical Center. I have loved leading the Medical Center and working with the incredible doctors, nurses, administrators, researchers and staff members here. I have never worked with a more dedicated group of people in my career. This decision is far easier because I know we have excellent staff and leadership who will continue to provide a strong direction for this indispensible institution. I look forward to the remaining months of my tenure as CEO and to continuing to provide advice and guidance to the leadership here.”

Over the course of her tenure, Zane pulled Tufts Medical Center back from fiscal crisis and returned it to financial stability. She strengthened its relationship with Tufts University, established its community physician network which now includes 1,500 doctors, and launched its Distributed Academic Medical Center™ model which partners with community hospitals to keep more care locally in the community. Under Zane’s leadership, the hallmark of Tufts Medical Center has been the high-quality care it provides to its patients, the most medically complex patient population of any full service acute-care hospital in the Commonwealth. The Medical Center does so at a lower cost than its academic medical center competitors, providing immense value to patients, employers and the health system as a whole. Zane is the first woman to serve as CEO in the 215-year history of the hospital, which was founded by Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, and is one of the oldest medical institutions in the nation.

The full announcement is here, but here are a couple of particularly interesting chunks:

An ad for Tufts Medical Center
An ad for Tufts Medical Center

Zane and her team have led the way in building a bridge between academic medicine and community medicine, which has provided Tufts MC a strategy for succeeding in the new health care reform environment. Zane labeled this strategy the “Distributed Academic Medical Center Model” several years ago, long before Accountable Care Organizations were the buzz. This unique model positions Tufts Medical Center to partner with, instead of working against, its community hospital partners. The strategic aim is to improve and maintain local care in the community, bolstered by Tufts Medical Center talent and research. The Medical Center’s strong affiliations with Lowell General Hospital, MetroWest Medical Center, Jordan Hospital, Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital, as well as others, are proof of the effectiveness of the strategy.

“Ellen had the vision to understand how important a community physician network would be to the Medical Center, and she had the insight to know what value such a network could offer doctors and their patients,” said Jeffrey Lasker, M.D., CEO of NEQCA. “Ellen also strongly believed that our overall goal should be to encourage our doctors to strengthen their ties to their local community hospitals, and reserve their referrals to Tufts Medical Center for the most complex cases. Through NEQCA and our affiliations with community hospitals, Ellen and Tufts Medical Center have strengthened primary and secondary health care in Eastern Massachusetts.”

Within Tufts Medical Center’s own community of Chinatown, the Medical Center continues to serve as the local community hospital and its economic engine. Under Zane’s leadership, the hospital has made significant investments in improving Chinatown’s health. The hospital’s Asian Access program currently offers more than ten clinical programs aimed at speakers of Asian languages, along with a robust interpretive services department. Tufts Medical Center is also a major funder of Chinatown non-profit programs, contributing $450,000 in its most recent two-year grant cycle.

And, as a Boston Globe story recently reported:

One of Zane’s key accomplishments has been the stabilization and growth of Floating Hospital for Children. Floating Hospital, Tufts Medical Center’s pediatric center, has long been known as a center of excellence for pediatric care, but in the early 2000s the children’s hospital was struggling. Facing poor reimbursements from government and private payers alike, Floating Hospital was losing money and faculty. Zane and physician leadership have propelled a remarkable resurgence at Floating Hospital. Some 35 new faculty have joined the hospital since 2007, and affiliations with local hospitals throughout Eastern Massachusetts have strengthened pediatric care at Floating Hospital and in the community simultaneously.

We wrote here and here this week about the recent conflict between the Tufts nurses and administration. The press release doesn't mention it, but I can't help but imagine that it will be nice to leave behind.

This program aired on February 17, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.

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