1. Rosenthal, Eric T.

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The next shoe was dropped on Jan. 10 when Temple University Health System (TUHS) announced leadership changes at Fox Chase Cancer Center, the former freestanding cancer center that was integrated into Temple six months ago (7/2/12 blog post).

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In a "dear colleagues" letter, Larry R. Kaiser, MD, Senior Executive Vice President for Health Sciences at Temple University; Dean of Temple University School of Medicine (TUSM); and President and CEO of TUHS, wrote that Michael V. Seiden, MD, PhD, "has decided to step down as President and CEO of Fox Chase Cancer Center, effective February 28, 2013, to seek other opportunities."


The letter also noted that Gary Weyhmuller, SVP and COO, and Rob Davis, AVP for Integration at Fox Chase, "will be stepping down from their roles and leaving the organization," effectively wiping out the institution's senior administrative leadership.


Kaiser announced that he was appointing Verdi J. DiSesa, MD, MBA, TUHS's COO and Vice Dean for Clinical Affairs at TUSM, as the Interim President and CEO of Fox Chase, effective March 1, and that Judith Lynn Bachman, most recently Managing Director/Partner of Chicago-based Huron Healthcare Consulting, would become COO for Fox Chase and Jeanes Hospital, effective January 14. He noted that Bachman "is familiar with the Philadelphia health care market," since she had formerly spent seven years as Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for Thomas Jefferson University and Health System.


He said that Linda Grass will continue in her role as President and CEO of Jeanes Hospital, a community hospital that is part of Temple Health and shares the campus with Fox Chase, and will report directly to DiSesa in his role as COO of TUHS, and that Bachman, in turn, will report to the CEOs of both Fox Chase and Jeanes.


The new appointments were made following the announcement in early December (OT, 1/10/13 issue) that Richard I. Fisher, MD, would be leaving his position as Director of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, to join Fox Chase on March 1 as Executive Vice President and the newly created post of Physician-in-Chief, reporting to the center's President and CEO. Fisher was also named Senior Associate Dean for Cancer Programs at TUSM, reporting to Kaiser.


During a telephone interview, Kaiser said that Fox Chase and Jeanes had integrated some of their functions but would still operate as separate institutions with two separate site licenses, and that Temple was committed to Jeanes as a community hospital serving the community and would have a Fox Chase unit as well.


No Longer a Freestanding Institution

He said that a search was on for a new CEO and President but that Temple was rethinking those titles since Fox Chase was no longer a freestanding institution with a CEO reporting directly to a Board of Directors.


"Fox Chase will still have a Board, but the head of the institution is now reporting to the COO of Temple Health System, which has its own Board, so there will be some different relationships," he explained.


Kaiser added that in his new role as Physician-in-Chief, Fisher will be in charge of all clinical cancer services throughout the entire Temple system, with Judy Bachman running the day-to-day operations on the hospital side at the cancer center.


As for Fox Chase's Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG), which supports its status as one of 41 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, Kaiser said Temple has been in communication with the NCI dealing with the issue of who will be the next principal investigator when Seiden leaves at the end of February.


He said that Jonathan Chernoff, MD, PhD, would continue to run Fox Chase's "research enterprise" as Chief Scientific Officer and SVP, but regarding the core grant, "we're looking at all of the options as things evolve."


"I couldn't have done this deal without Michael Seiden and we had a tremendous working relationship. Michael has been absolutely instrumental during the integration, and we both mutually came to the conclusion that it's probably a good time to make this change. It's really a process in evolution."


Kaiser said NCI has to approve a new PI, and although "we have some suggestions it would be premature for me to name somebody since NCI has the final approval."


Seiden was not available for an interview; Kaiser said he didn't know what Seiden would be doing, but that he had discussed his desire to look for new opportunities.


'No Other Significant Restructuring Planned for Now'

Finally, Kaiser said that he doesn't have any other significant restructuring in mind for Fox Chase right now.


'We'll see how things go. Clearly these are major changes. We are absolutely committed to maintaining the culture of Fox Chase and really growing the enterprise. Fox Chase has been very successful over the years and we're committed to providing outstanding cancer care in the community," he said.