In 2001, the ink was barely dry on the merger that created Trinitas Regional Medical Center of Elizabeth, NJ. The new hospital’s CEO, a respected executive, had retired. The country was coming off a contested presidential election and the nation would soon change, following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. It was a time of profound uncertainty and yet, it was during this period that Trinitas Hospital found the perfect CEO to take the reins.
Trinitas is unique in terms of its sponsorship and governance. The hospital is officially sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth in partnership with Elizabethtown Healthcare Foundation (the former parent of Elizabeth General). The new CEO needed to be a team-builder from the moment that he arrived on the scene, while balancing the goals and objectives of two separate entities. Now it is 16 years later and the Chairman of the Board, Vic Richel and CEO Gary Horan reflect on the challenges faced during a period that saw enormous changes in the health care of this country.
Victor M. Richel is well familiar with the history of Trinitas. He was born in Elizabeth and after graduating from Villanova University, he pursued a successful career in banking. His additional studies in marketing and executive development took him to Columbia University and Harvard University. He is now Chairman of the Board of Trustees at both Trinitas Health and Trinitas Regional Medical Center. When Vic Richel thinks back to the selection process, the hospital conducted a nation-wide search for candidates and although there were several highly qualified individuals, what the hospital needed was someone who could create a new atmosphere of change and growth.
Gary Horan was in his 11th year as a CEO at Our Lady of Mercy in the Bronx. The changes that were envisioned for Trinitas represented a tremendous challenge, but Gary was confident in the direction envisioned by the Board of Trustees. He was up to the challenge. Looking back, Gary is somewhat in awe of what has been accomplished during his tenure as CEO. Creating financial stability for the organization was perhaps the greatest challenge. But he worked closely with the Board, the city of Elizabeth, the mayor and the elected officials of the community, all of whom remain great supporters of the hospital.
Additionally, the Sisters of Charity have been enormously supportive of the Board’s mission. At Trinitas, the Chair positions change every two years and in the New Year, Mr. Richel will become vice-chair, while the Sisters of Charity representative, Sister Rosemary, will become chairperson. It is a system that has worked very well. The leadership of Mr. Richel has created a unity among the administrators of the hospital, as well as the Board of Trustees. It is a strong relationship of confidence and trust and the hospital is well positioned for the future – fiscally sound and profitable, Trinitas Hospital became Trinitas Regional Medical Center. From the top down, the Medical Center has a solid executive staff and management staff. Mr. Richel describes the mid-level staff as fantastic and the employee staff as excellent. All in all, it enjoys great employee relations.
The world of health care is one of constant advancement in the science of medicine and treatment, but it also a changing landscape of regulatory and insurance-based constraints. The biggest challenge now is managing the medical center through governmental oversight and the resolving the difficulties of dealing with changes in rules and regulations at the federal and state levels. Given the challenges faced in the past, with the vision and guidance of Vic Richel and Gary Horan, Trinitas Regional Medical Center is well-positioned to meet the needs of the community both now and into the future.