From Housekeeping to Head Man of a $2B Health System
As his board nears naming a successor, the longtime CEO of a South Florida public hospital looks back on more than four decades of service that started in housekeeping.
This article first appeared in the April 2016 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
Frank V. Sacco, Memorial Health Care System's president and CEO, took a pay cut in 1974 to take a job as one hospital's assistant director of housekeeping. He will leave the same South Florida organization (he hopes) in 2016 as the CEO of a six-hospital public health system that no longer relies on its community for tax support.
The board is 60 to 90 days from naming his successor, and in addition to being younger, that person will need to be more patient and tolerant than he is. When asked how he views his impending retirement, his one-word answer, delivered without hesitation is telling:
"I made my decision over the summer to retire. I'm still passionate and engaged, but I felt it was time to step aside and let someone younger and with more patience and tolerance than I have to take over."
Certainly, given his long and distinguished history at the organization, no one was going to tell Sacco, 68, that it was time to go. Certainly not after having grown a taxpayer-supported health system from one hospital with $115 million in revenue to a thriving $2 billion integrated delivery system with no need for local tax assistance.
Indeed, who's going to tell a guy like that to go other than the man himself?
Sacco left a management training program outside healthcare to join the South Broward Hospital District, dba Memorial Hospital, in 1974, after a tour of Korea in the army as a medical supply officer.
"I was going to take any position to get me back into the hospital," he says. "I had to take a pay cut, but I said if they would give me the chance to prove myself, I'll take a chance too. Two and a half months later, they made me director of safety and security and kept giving me additional assignments."