Catholic Health Services of Long Island has named "an insider" and doctor as chief executive.
Dr. Alan Guerci, 63, a cardiologist who now is executive vice president for the health system and chief executive of St. Francis Hospital, Mercy Medical Center and St. Joseph Hospital, succeeds Richard Sullivan effective July 1, the health system announced Tuesday.
Sullivan, chairman of the health system's board of directors, has been serving on a voluntary basis as the system's chief executive since December. Sullivan took over from Lawrence McManus after the board voted to let him go after a brief eight-month tenure.
"Alan is an insider; he's been with system for over 20 years," Sullivan said. "We really wanted someone who was part of the family."
Sullivan said that having "a physician leader . . . would resonate well with the physician community." Many community doctors, he said, are "in a frenzy" to align with hospitals because of changes mandated by the Affordable Care Act in how doctors and hospitals will be paid.
Guerci said he plans to "rationalize" and, in some cases, expand services in cardiology, cardiac surgery, oncology, orthopedics and the neurosciences among the health system's six hospitals. Early next year, Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip will start an open-heart surgery program using St. Francis surgeons, and St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center, in Flower Hill, will expand its cancer programs, he said.
In part, he said, this is in response to "opportunities from regional market forces" and also an attempt to ready the six-hospital system for changes because of the Affordable Care Act.
"These are extremely challenging times for hospitals," Guerci said, citing the fact that last year St. Francis alone lost "$49 million on our Medicare book of business." He predicted that payments to hospitals and doctors will be further reduced as the government strives to implement the act without raising taxes.
Before becoming chief executive of St. Francis in 1999, Guerci was the hospital's executive vice president for medical affairs and director of research. Previously, he served as director of the coronary care unit at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and as chairman of the clinical trials review committee of the Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.