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Jefferson chair of heart surgery leaving for smaller health system as LVHN merger moves forward

The chair of cardiothoracic surgery at Jefferson Health will leave the system for a position at the smaller Tower Health, citing frustration that Jefferson grew too large.
Rohinton Morris, a heart surgeon who trained and worked in multiple Philadelphia hospitals, will lead cardiothoracic surgery and cardiovascular medicine at Tower beginning April 15. The nonprofit health system consists of three acute-care hospitals in the counties outside Philadelphia — in Reading, Phoenixville, Pottstown — and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in North Philadelphia.
Jefferson included three hospitals when Morris became chief of the health system’s heart surgery in 2015. In the eight years since, Jefferson Health has grown to include 18 hospitals in Philadelphia, the surrounding Pennsylvania counties, and South Jersey.
The system will grow even more, to include 30 hospitals as far as north as Scranton, if the acquisition of Lehigh Valley Health Network goes through.
The system’s growth has made Morris feel he can no longer be as impactful as a leader.
“Jefferson has become such a huge enterprise now, that to make any change is like trying to move an ocean liner,” he said. “As the system has gotten larger and larger, my influence has gone gotten lesser and lesser.”
Some might see a move to a smaller network as a disadvantage, but Morris sees it as an opportunity, even if it “may not be as prestigious as a university job.” He thinks he will have more flexibility to shape the way cardiac care is provided at a smaller, nimbler health system.
Jefferson did not respond to a request for comment.
Shiny objects and losses
Tower, like many health systems in the Philadelphia region, reported losses and low cash reserves last year. Morris said he discussed the system’s finances with Tower leadership and they were honest about the system’s challenges. He isn’t worried about the ability to recruit physicians or expand services.
“If I can increase the volume, then there are not going to be any obstacles,” he said.
Some cardiothoracic surgery departments have zeroed in on complex robotic surgeries, which can be lucrative. Morris said he wants to focus on expanding access to basic cardiac care, rather than growing highly specialized services that benefit a small percentage of patients.
“The shiny objects are the things that get you noticed,” Morris said. “But health care is not about shiny objects.”
Morris said he wants Tower’s cardiac-care program to focus on helping aging patients in Philadelphia’s suburbs manage chronic heart problems, for instance by expanding clinic hours. His goal is that patients who live near Tower hospitals can go there for cardiac care, instead of driving into Philadelphia.
Morris is currently completing an online master’s program in public health at George Washington University.
“The success story is when nobody leaves the area because they don’t feel like they can get high-end care,” Morris said.
Source: Morningcall

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