– After nearly 18 years at the helm of one of the nation’s leading and fully integrated health systems, Thomas F. Zenty III will officially retire from University Hospitals at the end of January 2021. He has served UH during its significant growth into a super-regional health system. In his tenure, he led teams that changed the landscape of University Circle in Cleveland with construction of the UH Seidman Cancer Center, the region’s only free-standing, inpatient cancer hospital. UH also constructed the UH Ahuja Medical Center in Beachwood, Ohio and earlier this year announced plans for a $200 million Ahuja campus expansion.
Among the first to recognize the benefits of hospital consolidation, UH expanded by welcoming the addition of numerous community hospitals across the region over the past five years, including in Parma, Elyria, Westlake, Ravenna and Ashland. During his leadership, UH increased from three hospitals to 18 hospitals, extending care close to home for 1.3 million patients each year provided by almost 28,000 physicians and caregivers across UH’s service area.
Throughout his tenure, UH has invested in the renovation and expansion of facilities, recruitment of physicians, new technologies and extension of services to deliver the care patients need. In 2016, UH launched the first proton therapy center in Ohio, an investment in ultra-high technology targeting tumors more directly and limiting potential damage to surrounding healthy tissue and organs.
Two years later, UH extended its longstanding commitment to serving the community by opening the UH Rainbow Center for Women & Children, a new 40,000 square foot facility in Cleveland’s MidTown. Focused on primary pediatric care and women’s health, the center embodies UH’s model to transform health and wellness by improving access to care and addressing social factors that affect health. Over the past 10 years, UH has provided nearly $3 billion of local community benefit and supported numerous efforts to improve the health of everyone in UH’s service area with an emphasis on the underserved throughout the region.
UH has received accolades for the quality of care it provides. UH Cleveland Medical Center, the system’s flagship, and UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital are perennially among the highest performers in national ranking surveys, including “America’s Best Hospitals” from US News & World Report. UH attributes these accomplishments to a focus on its dedicated caregivers, evidenced recently when Forbes recognized UH as the best employer in the state of Ohio.
UH has been named for seven years among the World’s Most Ethical Companies for fostering a culture of integrity, ethical behavior and transparency. This prestigious award, presented by the Ethisphere Institute, is based on an objective assessment of ethics and compliance programs, corporate citizenship, culture of ethics, governance, leadership, innovation and reputation.
In 2017, UH celebrated the conclusion of its Discover the Difference campaign, which raised more than $1.5 billion over an extended period through the generosity of 90,000 donors. The largest fundraising campaign in UH’s history, it touched all areas of the health system, helping to expand services, support recruitment and training, and endow clinical and research programs for future generations.
A year earlier, UH and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine renewed their relationship under a new affiliation agreement that expanded both institutions’ opportunities to advance education, research and clinical care. Today, UH has 2,500 active clinical research trials underway, including 800 interventional clinical trials, and in 2018 total funding for research reached $249 million. The health system provides training for nearly 1,200 residents and fellows.
UH has redesigned its technology transfer office and serves as an accelerator for promising start-up companies. It is actively involved in creating new business opportunities with venture capitalists and private equity investors, created alternative sources of revenue, and established new joint ventures regionally and nationally.
Additionally, Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals – part of the Harrington Project for Discovery & Development – engages UH with the most brilliant physician-scientists at more than 50 universities nationally and internationally. Earlier this year, Harrington Discover Institute announced an affiliation with the prestigious Oxford University in England to create an international research center for rare diseases.
Zenty is a recipient of the Warren Bennis Award for Excellence in Leadership from the Global Institute of Leadership Development. He is a past trustee of the American Hospital Association, recognized by Modern Healthcare among the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare and in the Northeast Ohio Business Hall of Fame. He has received an honorary doctorate and has served on various visiting committees and faculties of universities within the U.S. and abroad. He has served or serves on the boards of publicly traded companies, not-for-profit/community service organizations and private equity corporations.
A Pennsylvania native, he previously held leadership roles at health systems in California, Arizona, New Jersey and Connecticut during his 40-year career.
“UH forever will be indebted to Tom for his vision and leadership. The Board has the utmost respect and appreciation for him and his record of accomplishment, and we thank him for his unwavering dedication and service to our health system, our patients, caregivers and the community,” said Arthur F. Anton, Chair of the UH Board of Directors.
The Board of Directors is expected to announce the selection of the next UH CEO before year end. The selection culminates an extensive and deliberate succession planning process that has occurred over the past year.
“Announcing my intention to retire from UH now ensures a year-long process for a collaborative and seamless leadership transition. The Board’s implementation of a thorough and comprehensive selection process safeguards our legacy of community commitment and that UH will have strong leadership well into the future,” Zenty said. “Our health system is financially strong, operationally sound and strategically well positioned to continue advancing the science of health and the art of compassion in service to our patients and communities we serve.”