UIHC looks to the future

Two weeks ago, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics welcomed its new CEO, Suresh Gunasekaran. Monday, he took the time to meet with the media to talk about the future of Iowa’s largest hospital system.

Gunasekaran comes to UIHC from Dallas. He's the former COO of the University of Texas Southwestern Health System.

Gunasekaran comes to UIHC from Dallas. He's the former COO of the University of Texas Southwestern Health System. The MBA had been there since '04, but when the UI's opportunity popped up, Gunasekaran said it was too good to pass up.

“To put it simply, the national reputation,” he said. “University of Iowa College of Medicine and UIHC have such a long-standing tradition of excellence."

The new CEO will replace Ken Kates, who retired earlier this year. Kates left behind a decade-long tenure full of patient growth and construction. Gunasekaran's vision for the future looked to push that growth further.

"The next decade is going to be about growth,” Gunasekaran said. “We continue to have significant demand for our services. Whether it is in the hospital, whether it is in the clinics. There are increasingly more patients that are seeking out our care than we are able to deliver."

Gunasekaran is big on communication. Besides reaching out to media organizations to introduce himself in interviews, he's appearing in promotional videos and hosting town halls to meet with staff.

"It's really important to improve communication within the organization,” Gunasekaran said in one of the UI’s get-to-know-you videos posted to YouTube. “I think that's going to be a real area of focus—not only making sure that we listen to one another, but that everyone's on the same page as we move forward."

The CEO will also face the challenge of a tighter budget. The university recently implemented an $86-million dollar savings plan to bring UIHC out of a deficit at the start of the 2018 budget. Add to that the concern of further reductions from the statehouse for the UI as a whole.

"The core mission of being able to attract world-class faculty is highly dependent on the support that we get from the state and other sources,” said Gunasekaran. “We must continue to innovate because we are not expecting any greater changes in those trends."

For the immediate future, though, Gunasekaran said he’ll be spending the first 90 days focused on listening-- to staff, faculty and the community.