Elizabeth Concordia: Building the Academic Hospitals of the Future
by John Fries
For many years, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has been
building a well-deserved reputation as one of the finest, most advanced
health and medical systems in the world.
With more than 31,700 employees, UPMC is the regionÕs largest employer.
Those who interact with the health system, whether occasionally or on
a regular basis, experience firsthand the quality and excellence embodied
by four simple lettersÑUPMC.
Excellence at UPMC is also embodied in its leadership. In 2001, the
system recruited Elizabeth Concordia to serve as President and CEO of
UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Shadyside, two of its Pittsburgh-based tertiary
facilities. At the time, her responsibilities were focused on enhancing
the effectiveness and efficiency of the systemÕs existing clinical programs
and developing new ones. In a relatively short time, she did a remarkable
Last spring, as part of a restructuring at its executive level, UPMC
appointed Concordia Senior Vice President of Academic and Community
Hospitals. The new roles are in addition to her existing ones at UPMC
ItÕs been an event-filled three years for Concordia. Under her leadership,
UPMC built and opened the state-of-the-art Hillman Cancer Center in
Shadyside, moved its world renown transplant program (with the exception
of open-heart cases) to UPMC Montefiore, and has been actively and successfully
integrating its hospitals. Two years ago, also under her direction,
UPMC Shadyside was selected from a field of 1,000 facilities as one
of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. (and the only one in the tri-state
area) for cardiovascular services.
And these, mind you, are just the highlights.
Concordia, a Philadelphia native, brought a highly impressive background
to UPMC. She holds a BachelorÕs degree from Duke University and a MasterÕs
degree in administrative science management from Johns Hopkins University.
Early in her career, she served as manager of healthcare information
systems and senior consultant at Ernst & Young in Washington, D.C. Later,
she was named associate director of the Montefiore Medical Center, the
Jack D. Weiler Hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in
Prior to coming to Pittsburgh, she spent eight years at the Johns Hopkins
Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, where her titles included vice
president, senior director, director of clinical service and clinical
information systems, and--during her last two years there--executive
vice president and chief operating officer.
She was very excited about the opportunity to work for UPMC. "In Western
Pennsylvania," she said, "everyone knows about UPMC, since itÕs part
of the landscape. But, outside the region, UPMC is building an amazing
reputation. This is a health system that is consistently featured in
the national media.
"I wanted to make a difference," said Concordia, "and thatÕs why I came
to UPMC. Here, I have the opportunity to do that."
She continued. "IÕve always wanted to create the hospital of the future,
and to innovate the next frontier." A major advocate for UPMCÕs academic
mission, Concordia said the system fosters an entrepreneurial environment,
and one that allows for innovation and flexibility, with a primary focus
on quality. "Other academic hospitals have great programs, but their
cultures are more conservative."
When she was recruited to UPMC, she was told that the system was looking
for someone with strong operational credentials and significant experience
at other academic centers. She also learned that she would be one of
the few non-natives of Western Pennsylvania in an executive position.
If thereÕs any question about how she spends her time away from the
office, one need only look the wall opposite her desk. Most people have
a few family photos on hand. Concordia hasÑconservative estimate hereÑabout
75. She lives in OÕHara Township with her husband, Michael, and their
three children, ages six, eight and ten. They are an athletic family
that enjoys skiing, biking, tennis and golf. The children add swimming
and soccer to that list.
Concordia enjoys living and working in the Pittsburgh area. "People
here are very friendly. My family and I have quickly integrated into
the community and now feel at home." she said.