University of Iowa Hospitals CEO Gunasekaran leaves to lead California’s healthcare system


University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Executive Director Suresh Gunasekaran meets Nov. 19, 2019, with The Gazette editorial board and reporters in Cedar Rapids. (The Gazette)

Suresh Gunasekaran, chief executive of hospitals and clinics at the University of Iowa, Oct. 14, 2021, identifies senior medical staff for Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds as he participates in a groundbreaking ceremony for the UIHC North Liberty extension. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics chief executive Suresh Gunasekaran — just three years after he took over as head of the state’s largest teaching hospital — is stepping down as head of the University Health System. the University of California, San Francisco, ranked No. 9, the university announced. Tuesday.

Gunasekaran has been one of the most publicly visible faces in the region as the COVID-19 pandemic nears its second anniversary in Iowa, warning last week that the UIHC saw the most dire situation it had. experienced with the number of infected patients at an all-time high. high as more of its staff are sick than before.

Meanwhile, the transition to the top comes as the UIHC recently began building a $395 million, 469,000 square foot hospital and clinics on 60 acres in North Liberty, and announced that a plan 10 years will include the construction of a new patient tower, an academic building and a clinic on the main campus in Iowa City.

Gunasekaran will leave in late February to begin March 1 as CEO of UCSF’s University Health System, UI Health Care Vice President for Medical Affairs Brooks Jackson said.

“All I can say is that I couldn’t have asked for a better partner,” Jackson told reporters. “I recruited Suresh here several years ago and have been extremely pleased with his performance, as well as on a personal level working with him.”

Gunasekaran said the decision to leave was difficult.

Governor Kim Reynolds (second from right), University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson (second from left), and Suresh Gunasekaran (right), CEO of UI Hospitals and Clinics, listen to the 14 October 2021, Iowa Regent Sherry Bates at a groundbreaking ceremony for the UIHC’s North Liberty Extension. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

“The University of Iowa Health Care and the University of Iowa are their own standard of excellence,” he said. “For the past few years, it has been an honor and a privilege to work at the University of Iowa, which is truly a special place of collaboration that is truly valued by the state and by this community.

“I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of the University of Iowa.”

Gunasekaran started at the UIHC on November 19, 2018, following a nationwide search to replace UIHC CEO Ken Kates, who retired. Prior to joining UIHC, Gunasekaran was Director of Operations for the Southwestern Health System at the University of Texas at Dallas.

He began his healthcare career in clinics and revenue cycle operations at Vanderbilt University Children’s Hospital, joining UT Southwestern in 2004 as an assistant vice president and chief medical officer. information.

He earned an MBA with honors from Southwestern Methodist University and, before entering the healthcare field, spent time as an information technology consultant in San Francisco in the late 1990s. .

“Ultimately, for me, on a personal level, it was hard to resist the pull of UCSF,” he said. “I have lived there before. I know the community very well, and I think it’s also a great institution. It wasn’t so much that something was missing here as the opportunity to make an impact there.

UI Health Care plans to appoint an interim CEO “soon” and launch a nationwide search to replace Gunasekaran.

“Mostly, I think it’s going to be hard to give up coming to work on Hopkins Drive every day,” he said. “Twelve thousand strong, we are extremely committed to the entire state of Iowa. We are committed to improving, we are committed to doing the right thing. And these things have become very easy at the University of Iowa Health Care.

Among Gunasekaran’s notable accomplishments in Iowa, according to the UIHC:

  • Lead the UIHC and the community through the pandemic “with clear and frequent communication of plans and actions”;
  • Set up free parking at the UIHC for patients with appointments;
  • Advance patient satisfaction, safety and quality initiatives;
  • Consistently achieve a positive hospital margin for self-sufficiency and growth;
  • Obtained hard-fought state certificate needed for North Liberty expansion;
  • And lead the planning effort to modernize the hospital’s main campus.

Gunasekaran’s listed salary as of September 2021 was $1.1 million. He told reporters on Tuesday that compensation had not played a role in his decision to leave, although he admitted the weather may have played a role.

“It absolutely plays a part, it’s a lot of shoveling I can avoid there,” he said. “But I will also say that there is a real advantage in having a real university community here. It’s powerful too.

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