South Florida Hospital News
Saturday March 28, 2020

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February 2020 - Volume 16 - Issue 8




Lincoln Mendez Reflects on Baptist Health-Boca Raton Merger and Looks Ahead

Last July, Lincoln Mendez of Baptist Health South Florida succeeded Jerry Fedele as CEO of Boca Raton Regional Hospital upon Fedele’s retirement and after the merger of the two healthcare organizations. Prior to coming to Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Mendez had also served as the CEO of South Miami Hospital since early 2010.

Mendez’s initial entry into the healthcare industry was in the hospital laboratory, starting as a Medical Technologist and eventually a Laboratory Director prior to transitioning into Hospital Administration. What motivated Mendez to enter the healthcare field was his three older brothers who had each entered the healthcare industry in different area such as nursing and radiology.
“As I pursued my undergraduate degree in Biology, the field of Medical Technology seemed like a natural fit for what I had been exposed to in college,” says Mendez.
Mendez served as CEO of Doctors Hospital for 14 years and it was around the halfway mark of his tenure at Doctors Hospital, that Baptist Health purchased that hospital from a for-profit organization.
“After Baptist Health acquired that facility, I was able to witness firsthand some of the challenges in transitioning into a new organization,” recalls Mendez. “I felt that this experience I had gained during that time would be beneficial to the hospital and medical staff at Boca Regional.”
That was one of the many reasons why Mendez wanted to become CEO. He also enjoys working on new construction projects as well as facility renovations which Baptist Health had committed to provide over $600 million dollars towards over the next 10 years.
“I also felt that my previous experience in this area would be beneficial for Boca Regional,” says Mendez. “Lastly, my family has always maintained residency in Broward County and our desire was to ultimately relocate to the Palm Beach County area. I believe all of these factors played a key role in my decision to accept the role of CEO at Boca Regional while still working for an organization which I have admired over the past 24 years.”
While Boca became a part of Baptist Health last summer, the two philosophies of each organization are not that much different from each other.
“Although we already knew about the excellent clinical reputation of Boca Regional, you really have to spend time with the board of directors, hospital staff and medical staff in order to get a better understanding of the culture that has existed there for many years,” says Mendez. “In my experience, I was very happy that both organizations share the same culture of providing excellent care, always striving to get better, a commitment to technological advances, a family type of environment and an overall deeply rooted bond with the community.”
The primary challenges of this merger involves what you would normally expect when two different organizations come together, according to Mendez.
“Integrating the 2,800-plus Boca Regional into the same systems, benefits and policies into an organization with over 23,000 employees can have its challenges, but we have been progressing systematically over the past six months,” he explains. “We also started on day one without having a contract with United Health Care which had historically represented approximately 18% of the hospital volume. Although we were able to sign a new agreement with United Health on December 1, 2019, this created some challenges for the community and medical staff during the first few months. Another important challenge will be getting both of the organizations on the same IT platform over the next 18 months which will be a significant undertaking and require additional resources to accomplish.”
Looking ahead, Mendez says that Baptist Health will continue to build on the excellent Centers of Excellence that had already been established at Boca Regional. This facility will work closely with the other Baptist Health facilities in Palm Beach County (Bethesda Hospital East, Bethesda Hospital West and the Baptist Outpatient Services in order to develop a regional approach to the healthcare services Baptist Health is providing in the county.
“In addition, Baptist Health has made a significant financial commitment to Boca Regional in order to build a new nine story Patient Tower with private rooms, a new Medical Office Building, a new Ambulatory Surgery Center, and numerous upgrades to the existing facility in order to ensure that Boca Regional continues to provide excellent health care services to this community for many years to come,” adds Mendez.
The 10 year Master Facility Plan is currently underway and Mendez says that they are expecting the first phase of that plan to be completed by the end of January.
“Thanks to the philanthropic support of the Schmidt Family Foundation, the new 972 space Schmidt Family Parking Garage will open to the public in late January and provide the community with much needed parking on the medical campus,” he says.
If you know the history of Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Mendez says, that you will have a much better appreciation of the bond that has existed between the hospital and the community since inception.
“As a result of a tragic situation, the community came together and made the commitment to build a community hospital in Boca Raton,” he says. “Those dreams were realized in 1967 with the opening of the hospital that came through volunteer efforts and community donations that were being directed by the Debbie-Rand Memorial Service League. From the efforts of that organization, which still plays a major role at the hospital to this day, this community hospital has developed into a Regional Medical Center providing excellent care to our community. Boca Raton Regional Hospital will always have a major impact in our community.”

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