Paz Bails Out

CEO Leaving Med Center

Med Center CEO Harold Paz has told employees that he is leaving to become Chief Medical Officer at Aetna.

The dramatic departure comes in the wake of the announcement of the Med Center-PinnacleHealth merger just two weeks ago. Paz was named CEO of the merged company. Pinnacle’s Michael Young remains as President.

Here is the full text of the July 9 letter from Paz to Med Center staffers ...

I am writing to inform you that I will step down as Penn State Hershey’s fifth Chief Executive Officer, Senior Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean at the end of this month to take on a new role as Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Aetna.
It has been an extraordinary privilege and honor to lead our Medical Center, Health System, and College of Medicine over the past eight years and to work with all of you. I am extremely grateful for your trust, friendship, and support. I am also enormously proud of what we have accomplished together and how far we have come as an academic health center during this time. 
We advanced our medical and graduate school programs through curriculum change, the creation of a graduate program in public health, master’s degrees for physician assistants and in homeland security, doctoral programs in integrated biomedical sciences and biostatistics, new College of Nursing degree programs, and the addition of a new Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Center for Global Health.
Four years ago, we created a new College of Medicine regional campus in State College. The campus graduated our first class this past May and received accreditation for a new family medicine residency program along with state funding to support our efforts. We received full eight-year accreditation for the College of Medicine from the LCME, with high marks. Additionally, we received national recognition for our efforts to create an innovative medical curriculum as one of only eleven medical schools in the nation to receive a coveted grant from the American Medical Association (AMA). The demand for admission to our medical school programs has become increasingly competitive with more than 8,800 applicants for 145 spaces this past year.
New institutes and centers, including the Institute for Personalized Medicine, the Neuroscience Institute, Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and Center for Integrated Healthcare Delivery Systems have been created to support and advance research across our campus and the University. Because of the hard work of our faculty and staff and despite national reductions in research funding, our NIH ranking has increased from 70th to 57th over the past eight years. In particular, we received a $27.3 million Clinical and Translational Science Award, one of only 61 awarded nationwide.
Our healthcare enterprise has served as the clinical platform for our academic mission, and we have done much to ensure that it remains world-class and cutting-edge. With the creation of our Penn State Hershey Health System and Medical Group we now own or operate four hospitals and employ more than 1,100 faculty physicians and clinicians. These professionals work or partner at 18 affiliated hospitals, practice at the Medical Center and our 64 outpatient clinics across central Pennsylvania, including 14 NCQA Level III Patient-Centered Medical Homes.
Our Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, and we have been designated a nursing Magnet hospital, not once, but twice. On the Hershey campus, hospital admissions, surgical cases, emergency room and outpatient visits have all grown by impressive numbers and our financial performance is among the best in the nation. These accomplishments reflect the success and hard work of our faculty and staff.
Our success and good fiscal stewardship has been instrumental in supporting the College of Medicine and Medical Center, enabling us to add and renovate vital facilities. On the Hershey campus alone we added 1.5 million square feet of new construction and renovated more than 1 million square feet of space. On our own or in partnership with others, we have opened the Children’s Hospital, Cancer Institute, Rehabilitation Hospital, Psychiatric Institute, Hershey Center for Applied Research, South Annex, Support Services Building, 30 Hope Drive East Campus Outpatient Building, a state-of-the-art Clinical Simulation Center, new research facilities, including the Institute for Personalized Medicine, and a host of new outpatient facilities across central Pennsylvania in Camp Hill, State College, Reading, Scranton, and Lancaster County.
Finally, just as Penn State Hershey’s clinical enterprise serves the five million people of central Pennsylvania while providing an educational and research platform for our academic programs, I am enormously proud that we added community service as our fourth strategic mission. We have worked to improve health and wellness in our community and advance service learning through a number of innovative programs including a farmers market, community garden and a multitude of partnerships with school districts and organizations. Our efforts were most recently recognized by the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania with the 2013 HAP Achievement Award for Community Benefit.
During the past two months, I have had the honor of presiding over my 20th medical school commencement. In addition, we have surpassed our $300 million campaign goal with more than $306 million raised and advanced our vision to create a new health care enterprise across the region with the signing of a letter of intent with PinnacleHealth. While it would have been an honor and privilege to serve as chief executive officer of this new and exciting chapter in our history, I realize that it also offers me the opportunity for a natural transition. After leading two medical schools and a world-class academic health center, I look forward to an entirely new chapter professionally.
I am very excited about my new role at Aetna and the tremendous chance it provides to address the many challenges and opportunities facing health care at the national and global level. While Sharon and I are excited about this change in our personal lives, and a chance to live in the same place during our workweek, we will both miss our many friends and colleagues here in Hershey and at Penn State.
I am pleased to share that Penn State President Eric Barron has chosen Dr. Craig Hillemeier, currently Vice Dean for Clinical Affairs, Chair of Pediatrics, and Chief Operating Officer of our Medical Group, to serve as CEO, Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, and Dean upon my departure. Dr. Hillemeier joined Penn State Hershey in 2001. Over the past 13 years, he has made significant contributions as a member of senior leadership, including the development of our new Children’s Hospital and the continued expansion of our Medical Group. I am confident he will serve you well.
I want to thank the incredible individuals who have given so much to advance our institution. When I arrived eight years ago, we faced some significant challenges, and I am indebted to you, our dedicated faculty and staff, for your enormous loyalty, hard work and support for all that we have accomplished. In particular, I want to thank members of the leadership team, executive council and senior management team for their efforts as outstanding leaders and colleagues.
Finally, I want to thank President Barron and my colleagues on President’s Council, the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Board of Directors, the Penn State Board of Trustees, our Penn State Hershey Campaign Committee, and Alumni Council for their enormous support, wisdom, and passion for all that we do.
To our students and trainees, you are our future; I wish you all the best and thank you for inspiring and challenging us. I can think of no greater privilege than serving as a medical school dean for almost 20 years. Thank you.
Harold L. Paz, M.D., M.S.
Chief Executive Officer,
Senior Vice President for Health Affairs,
and Dean


UPDATED 1:25 p.m., Wednesday, July 9

The Med Center contacted us with this information:

Simply put, you need to get your facts straight:
“…but his departure leaves Pinnacle’s Michael Young on top as President.”
This is wrong. In fact, the terms agreed to between Penn State Hershey and PinnacleHealth dictate that Penn State’s senior vice president for health affairs will serve as CEO of the new health enterprise and would be a voting member of its Board of Directors. Upon Dr. Paz’s departure, Dr. Craig Hillemeier will serve as Penn State’s senior vice president for health affairs. Mike Young will serve as president of the new health enterprise, overseeing its day-to-day operations. He will report to Penn State’s senior vice president for health affairs and CEO of the health enterprise and be a non-voting member of its Board of Directors.

Editor's Note: The Sun has asked the Med Center for a copy of the "Letter of Intent" between the Med Center and PinnacleHealth. Presumably, that document defines the relationships between the various players, but the Med Center has not supplied that document.

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