Jerry Fedele took over as CEO of Boca Raton
Regional Hospital in 2008. This month, he will be
honored by the Chamber of Commerce as Business
Leader of the Year. Photo by Tim Stepien
Boca Raton Regional Hospital has its own Undercover Boss — except, of course, he’s not actually undercover. Everyone knows Jerry Fedele is the president and CEO. And no one is filming his monthly stints doing all kinds of staff-level jobs, from housekeeping to working with dietitians or wheeling patients from X-ray to the lab.
Fedele, who lives along the ocean in Boca Raton, started the monthly workdays even before coming to South Florida.
“I don’t have to wear a tie,” he says, when talking about working in various departments at the hospital. “I can learn so much from employees and it does affect decisions.”
While working as a transporter (at a previous hospital), taking patients to get X-rays or lab tests, he learned the importance of having enough wheelchairs. While staff had complained about the lack of wheelchairs, he didn’t see the need at first. But after working as a transporter, he returned to his executive office an ordered 80 wheelchairs on the spot.
To be a good CEO, a person needs honesty, transparency, ability to communicate, ability to connect with employee, a great team, he says.
Good management practices like that have catapulted Fedele, 58, to success. This month (May 19), the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce will honor him as Business Leader of the Year.
Fedele, 58, took the job in Boca in 2008 with a history of restructuring and improving financially challenged hospitals. Since he arrived, Fedele led an initiative that resulted in operations improvement of
$60 million over 18 months. The hospital is consistently ranked among the top 5 percent of hospitals nationally and is ranked first in cardiac surgery, cardiology and stroke care in the state.
After college, he worked for an engineer contractor, but didn’t love it. That prompted him to go back to school, law school in his case. He ended up becoming valedictorian of his class. Still, Fedele insists he wasn’t always the smartest kid in his class.
“I worked harder than everyone else,” he says.
He still works hard, starting at 7 a.m. and continuing until 8 p.m. at least three days a week.
His and his wife, Terry, have three grown children who are all in the finance business. Fedele tries to do something special with each of his children when time permits. Last year, he and his son Andy rode bikes from Prague to Vienna.
“Going 15 miles an hour over seven days gives you a lot of quality time together,” he says. He treasures every minute of it.
— Mary Thurwachter
Q. Where did you grow up and go to school?
A. Greensburg, Pa., a rural town about 40 miles east of Pittsburgh. Went to Hempfield High School, the University of Pittsburgh; B.S. in mathematics and an MBA, and a juris doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law.
Q. What prompted you to switch from the practice of law to running/saving financially challenged hospitals?
A. Opportunity: The biggest health care bankruptcy in U.S. history happened at a competing system in Pittsburgh. I put together a plan to remove four hospitals from bankruptcy and led a $140 mil-
lion turnaround when they needed a CEO.
Q. What are some of the highlights of your professional life?
A. The Pittsburgh bankruptcy where we saved four hospitals, made a $140 mil-
lion turn-around, and refinanced $750 million.
Q. Why did you choose to make your home in Boca Raton?
A. Great hospital with great opportunity to grow. Nice place to live.
Q. What do you like best about living in Boca Raton?
A. Community support, beach, climate.
Q. What kinds of things do you do in your free time?
A. Golf, photography, bike riding, college basketball fan.
Q. What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
A. Leading Boca Raton Regional Hospital to great success as the best hospital in South Florida for patients, visitors and employees.
Q. What music do you listen to when you need inspiration? When you want to relax?
A. ’60s rock, country.
Q. Have you had mentors in your life? Individuals who have inspired your life decisions?
A. My dad for work ethic. A co-worker who taught me optimism. My first CEO boss, who taught me to shoot big.
Q. Who makes you laugh?
A. My three children: Kate, 27, Jeff, 25, and Andy, 23.