|To the University of Miami Community,|
In early April, the UHealth Board asked me to step into the role of interim CEO of our academic health system until July 1, as South Florida braced for the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given my background in global health and the anticipated surge in demand for services, I accepted those additional responsibilities at a critical moment for our community.
Thanks to the outstanding work of the Joint Operations Leadership Team (JOLT), which was created to oversee day-to-day processes necessary for the best possible performance by our health system—and the courage on the front lines—UHealth met the challenge of the surge even as we engaged in cutting-edge research to help fight the novel coronavirus and began making difficult decisions to mitigate the financial consequences of the pandemic.
With the end date of my term as interim CEO approaching, the UHealth Board met this week to discuss next steps. At the meeting, the Board appointed Joe Echevarria, a member of the JOLT, to succeed me as interim CEO, beginning July 1.
A South Bronx native and University of Miami alumnus who was the top executive at one of the most prestigious global professional services companies, Joe Echeverria has served in an interim capacity as chief administrative officer and chief financial officer of UHealth for the past months. His insight and financial acumen have been vital to our response to both the COVID-19 health emergency and the financial crisis resulting from the pandemic.
Joe graduated from the Miami Herbert Business School, is a certified public accountant who joined Deloitte, LLP in 1978 and went on to hold a wide range of leadership positions before being named chief executive officer of the multinational professional services company. He retired in 2014 after nearly 40 years with the company to pursue his passion for public service and he holds positions on the boards of several companies and organizations. He is the chairman of the board of directors of Bank of New York Mellon and is also a member of the boards of directors of Pfizer, Unum, and Xerox.
Joe served as chairman of President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance and now serves as an advisor to the Obama Foundation. He served on the University of Miami Board of Trustees for seven years until he became senior advisor to me in 2019. I will continue to rely on his wise counsel, and I know we can trust the experience and business expertise he brings to the University of Miami and UHealth. Joe is the right person to lead our health enterprise through this transitional period as we resume clinical operations while maintaining our work in addressing and treating patients with COVID-19.
As Joe moves into the interim CEO role, he will partner with Dipen Parekh, M.D. who the UHealth Board named permanent chief operating officer, effective July 1, and Ramon “Ray” Coto, the newly appointed chief financial officer, who will join the health system on June 15. As previously announced, David Reis will also be joining the leadership team as chief information officer to enhance technologies across the health system.
Dr. Parekh has served in numerous roles during his eight years at UHealth. He was named interim chief operating officer in January. His ongoing leadership and focus on the COVID-19 crisis have been instrumental in UHealth’s successful preparation and response. Dr. Parekh will continue his busy urologic cancer surgical practice and his service as chair of the department of urology.
Ray Coto comes to UHealth from Nicklaus Children’s Hospital where he was the interim chief financial officer and administrative director of corporate finance. Prior to joining Nicklaus, he was the chief operating officer of Molina Healthcare of Florida, chief financial officer of United Healthcare of Florida and held various financial leadership positions in health care organizations including Baptist Health of South Florida.
As UHealth Board Chair Stuart Miller noted, “This team is well equipped to lead the health system through the current pandemic and continue our mission to deliver leading-edge patient care, conduct groundbreaking research, and educate the next generation of physicians.”
I am immensely proud of the way UHealth has mobilized to meet the challenges and opportunities resulting from COVID-19. I have been humbled to serve more closely alongside our healthcare heroes during this pandemic.
As I transition out of the CEO role, I will remain directly engaged with the health system. The search for a permanent CEO of UHealth will start immediately and we will soon announce the members of the search committee.
I finish this interim period of more direct service to UHealth with even more confidence in the team we have in place. From the JOLT to our researchers, clinicians, and support staff, at every level our patients and our community are in very good hands. My thanks especially to our colleagues at UHealth, the Miller School of Medicine, the UHealth Board, the University of Miami Board of Trustees, and all of you for your faith and support in these unprecedented times.