UCSF Medical Center: Profile of a turnaround

A failed merger with Stanford Hospitals & Clinics in the late 1990s nearly brought the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center to its knees. Instead, CEO Mark Laret arrived to spearhead a turnaround that resulted in the hospital recently being cited as one of the top 10 hospitals nationwide by U.S. News & World Report, as well as earning annual profits of $60 to $100 million for the past several years.

Following the dissolution of the merger, losses totaled $1.5 million a week and were projected to top $60 million in Laret's first year on the job. In addition, UCSF was faced with angry employees who felt promises had been broken. But the hospital had good fundamentals, including strong medical and nursing staffs, a successful children's hospital and a dominant regional market share for complex organ transplants.

Laret first instilled a management team with the common values necessary to help lead UCSF in the right direction. He then worked to get the entire UCSF team on the same page by obtaining medical, clinical and support staff buy-in for the hospital's fundamental mission of "Caring, healing, teaching, discovering." UCSF has maintained that focus through an emphasis on quality and safety. "We're dedicated to making that part of our DNA," he says.

"I also put together a non-fiduciary advisory board early on to include very senior leaders in our community....The advisory board is made up of 6 to 8 people, including Mike Ullman, CEO of J.C. Penney, and Dick Rosenberg, former Bank of America CEO. The board has really helped me to focus on our priorities and make difficult decisions," says Laret.

To continue its success going forward, UCSF has launched a $1.6 billion project ($1 billion from loans and reserves and $600 million from philanthropy) to build a new 289-bed children's, women's and cancer hospital at its Mission Bay campus. The hospital expects to receive final approval to start construction sometime this year. UCSF also is in the process of implementing an electronic health record.

To learn more about this hospital's turnaround:
- read the Becker's Hospital Review article

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