Catholic Health Senior Leadership Undergoes ‘Major Reorganization’: 7 Changes

The president and CEO says this new leadership structure will help the system innovate and become more efficient in the face of a shifting healthcare landscape.

Catholic Health, based in Buffalo, New York, has dramatically restructured its senior leadership team.

President and CEO Mark Sullivan announced what the organization described as a “major reorganization” this week, about a year and a half after he was named to the system’s top executive job.

“Change is happening all around us in healthcare and rather than react to the pressures of our industry, we must lead change in the region to sustain our mission and meet the needs of the patients and communities we serve,” Sullivan said in a statement. “This new leadership structure will build on the high quality care that already exists within our system and drive development, innovation and efficiencies that will have an even greater impact on the health of our community.”

The team will spend the next several months transitioning into their new roles, Sullivan said.

“We are all excited about the opportunities before us to lead the transformation of healthcare in our community, but we also know how important smooth transitions are,” he added, “not only for our physician partners and associates, but more importantly, for the patients and long term care residents we serve.”

Here are seven significant changes outlined in Sullivan’s announcement:

  1. Joyce Markiewicz, who had served as president and CEO of Home and Community Based Care, has been named Chief Business Development Officer for Catholic Health. Sullivan called Markiewicz “the ideal person” for the job, citing her experience developing strategic partnerships and new business initiatives.
  2. Tom Gleason, who has served as chief operating officer for Home and Community Based Care, has been promoted to senior vice president of Home and Community Based Care, in light of Markiewicz’s expanded role. Gleason will oversee Catholic Health’s skilled nursing facilities and home care agencies, according to the announcement.
  3. Gary Trucker, president and CEO of Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, will retire this fall.
  4. Marty Boryszak, former president and CEO of Sisters of Charity Hospital, has been named senior vice president of acute care services at Catholic Health. In light of Tucker’s retirement, Sullivan decided to restructure Catholic Health’s hospital presidents, who will report to Boryszak.
  5. CJ Urlaub, former president and CEO of Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, has been named senior vice president of strategic partnerships, integration, and care delivery in Niagara County for Catholic Health. As part of these responsibilties, he will assume the role as president of Mount St. Mary’s Hospital when Tucker retires.
  6. Eddie Bratko, who had been chief operating officer of Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, has been named president of Mercy Hospital.
  7. John Sperrazza, who had been chief operating officer of Sisters of Charity Hospital, has been named president of the hospital and its St. Joseph campus.

Walt Ludwig, who was named president and CEO of Kenmore Mercy Hospital just last year, will keep his position, according to the announcement.

The overhaul comes after two recent high-level hires. William Pryor was named Catholic Health’s new chief administrative officer, and Dr. Hans Cassagnol was named chief clinical officer and physician executive. And it comes as Catholic Health is currently conducting a national search for a chief operating officer and chief transformation & innovation officer, according to the announcement.

“How healthcare is delivered in the future will be different than it is today and our executive team must be reflective and responsive to these changes,” Sullivan said. “With the new talent we are recruiting to the region and the experienced leaders we have assuming new roles within our system, I am confident we have the right team in place to fulfill our Mission and drive change where it is needed to better serve the community and build upon our success as the quality, safety and patient satisfaction leader in Western New York.”





Wayne State tab for physician group bankruptcy may top $16 million

Wayne State University is fronting what could potentially total more than $16 million in payments for the School of Medicine’s faculty practice, University Physician Group, to rebuild after bankruptcy.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Detroit last Monday approved UPG’s reorganization plan and exit from bankruptcy after the nonprofit medical practice suddenly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November.

After “extensive negotiations” with UPG, Wayne State agreed to provide financial assistance under a restructuring support agreement, according to a version of the reorganization plan submitted April 9.

Wayne State is, in essence, acting as a bank, providing exit financing to UPG for general unsecured creditor claims (it’s excluding claims by Wayne State and an affiliated nonprofit Fund for Medical Research and Education).

A 15-year term loan from Wayne State will be used to pay 80 percent of unsecured claims that are currently projected at approximately $10.7 million, but could rise as court proceedings are finalized, according to a document in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Detroit.

The Detroit university is also providing a revolving loan of at least $2.5 million that could range up to $7.5 million for UPG’s working capital needs.

A Wayne State representative declined to provide additional comment on the restructuring plan.

The November bankruptcy filing was driven by discovery earlier in that year that financial losses of the 20-year-old faculty practice plan were double the $5.5 million expected and a new, more drastic turnaround plan was required, Crain’s reported at the time. Over the past decade, UPG’s number of physicians declined by 50 percent, which hurt clinical revenue and made its leased network of suburban offices untenable, the filing said.

The court-approved reorganization strategy created with consulting firm AlixPartners will help determine the future of UPG. It is expected to carry UPG from its 2018 loss of $8.1 million to $3 million in profit by 2022, according to the release and reorganization documents.

To carry out the reorganization, the practice plan’s leadership formed six interdisciplinary teams to “transform and modernize” financial operations, its footprint, patient access, doctor compensation, business relationships and organization culture, among other things, last week’s news release said.

Closing clinics

As part of restructuring, UPG is shrinking the amount of clinical space it operates from 260,000 square feet to 115,000 by the end of the year, Charles Shanley, M.D., University Physician Group’s president and CEO, told Crain’s on Tuesday. The practice plan downsized sites in Southfield, Dearborn and Livonia and closed its clinical practice locations in Lake Orion and Port Huron, as well as a surgical center in Troy.

“We desperately needed to consolidate and modernize the clinical footprint,” he said.

UPG is shrinking to seven sites, Shanley added. The large majority are in Midtown Detroit, with UPG opting to focus its presence less on the suburbs and more in Detroit and at WSU’s School of Medicine.

“We are on a path to be a leading urban academic practice, in a thriving city, recognized for innovative delivery of high-value care to the most complex and vulnerable members of the community,” Shanley said in the release. “Our future lies in streamlining access for the Detroit community … to high-quality and cost-effective care in collaboration with Detroit’s primary care physicians, federally qualified health centers, the Detroit Medical Center, Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and Henry Ford Health System.”

The practice plan employs 244 physicians, with 23 more who have been hired and are in the credentialing process. A net total of five physicians have left since the bankruptcy filing.

UPG has been looking since last summer at sites around Midtown where it could create a multidisciplinary ambulatory site, allowing patients to walk a short distance to another specialist doctor instead of needing to travel to another facility.

It’s also looking at locations in Midtown where it could shift its administrative offices from Troy. That move-out is expected to finish by the end of October, marking the end of the site consolidation process.

Henry Ford, DMC ties

The November filing came several weeks after UPG and the Detroit Medical Center reached a five-year contract in September for clinical and medical administrative services. The deal renewed a longtime affiliation between the for-profit hospital chain owned by Tenet Healthcare Corp. of Dallas and the Wayne State group, appearing to calm what had been a disintegrating relationship.

UPG’s financial crisis — alongside mismanagement, lack of teamwork and other issues — have shown it will likely never become the large, profitable group envisioned by former Wayne State Medical School Dean John Crissman in 1999, Crain’s previously reported.

Wayne State University’s medical school also needs to look at revenue options to replace what it would have taken in through an affiliation deal with Henry Ford Health System, according to previous Crain’s reporting. Henry Ford Health System CEO Wright Lassiter III pulled the plug in March after months of negotiations.

The bankruptcy is unrelated to WSU’s negotiations with Henry Ford Health System, Shanley told Crain’s on Tuesday.

“I think there’s general enthusiasm among the leadership of the school of medicine and the university to maintain and enhance our relationship with Henry Ford and resume conversations toward a synergistic partnership,” he said. “We’re all enthusiastic and supportive of that. It’s critical to the mission of the school of medicine and it’s good for the city of Detroit. I think it’s just a matter of reinitiating those discussions.”