February 2004

New WPAHS CEO Plans to Move Health System Forward

b y John Fries

It’s a new day—and a new era--at West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS), as the region’s second largest health system moves forward, full-speed-ahead, under the direction of a new leader--one who played a key role in creating the system.

Jerry Fedele, formerly the system’s senior vice president and general counsel, was appointed president and CEO last October. This is the same Jerry Fedele who, just a few years ago, spent many long hours helping to craft the agreement that would merge West Penn Hospital, Allegheny General Hospital, and four related community hospitals to form WPAHS.

Less than four months into the job, he said things are going very well. He spoke with enthusiasm about his new role, and the bright future he envisions for the system.

"I’m very excited about the opportunity to lead the West Penn Allegheny Health System," said Fedele. "We’re going in a positive direction. The health system is strong and vital. Patient volume is up, and there’s a real sense of unity among the six hospitals.

With more than 18 years of healthcare leadership experience, Fedele has the background and credentials to lead the system and its 12,000 employees. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh, an MBA from the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business at Pitt, and a Juris Doctor degree from the Duquesne University School of Law, where he was class valedictorian.

He started his health care career in 1986 as general counsel at West Penn Hospital, eventually moving into senior management. In 1999 and 2000, during the formation of WPAHS, Fedele worked closely with the man he would ultimately succeed, then-system president and CEO Charles O’Brien, Jr.

Over the past three years, the system has begun to grow and thrive. Fedele plans to continue that growth.

"The organization has been stabilized financially, and the hospitals are now enjoying positive physician recruitment, patient growth, and investment in cutting-edge programs and technologies," he said. "West Penn Allegheny Health System is moving forward as an integrated system, and will play a key role in regional health care," said Fedele.

The six facilities, with more than 2,000 beds, serve not only Pittsburgh with a continuum of care, but several surrounding states as well.

"Allegheny General Hospital and West Penn Hospital are excellent tertiary and quantenary facilities. They are working together in a collaborative manner, and are developing new programs—for example, a new, in vitro fertilization center, and a joint residency and fellowship programs for educating physicians."

He noted that WPAHS is well-positioned to provide community care through its hospitals that are strategically located in growth regions: Alle-Kiski Medical Center in the northeast, Canonsburg General Hospital in the south, Forbes Regional Hospital in the east suburbs, and Suburban General Hospital just to the north.

"We’re already seeing the benefits of collaboration," said Fedele, who explained that the system’s management structure includes a president at each hospital, all of whom meet regularly.

Fedele, originally from Greensburg, lives in Wexford with his wife, Terry, and three children: Katie, a sophomore at the University of Michigan; Jeff, a senior at North Catholic High School; and Andy, a sophomore at North Allegheny high school.

A few of Fedele’s favorite pastimes are photography, golf, and watching college basketball—especially when Pitt,, his alma mater, is playing.

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