KETTERING — When Frank Perez became president and CEO of Kettering Medical Center in 1994, the hospital had a dire financial outlook.
It was losing its only HMO contract — 13.5 percent of its business. Unrest was rife within the medical staff. The hospital was on course to lose $30 million that year.
Stopping the bleeding was paramount, Perez said, but quality couldn’t be sacrificed.
Perez said the hospital presented the cancellation of its contract with UnitedHealthcare as an opportunity for another health insurer to take on more enrollees. That fall, the hospital entered into a managed care contract with another health insurer, and 70,000 switched from the canceled plan to the new plan, recalls Perez, who announced Thursday, May 6, that he will retire in a year.
The hospital also tried to energize employees to maintain quality and rally around a renewed mission and vision, Perez said.
From those difficult times, Kettering Medical Center entered an era of affiliations that created today’s Kettering Health Network: Grandview/Southview medical centers (1999), Greene Memorial Hospital (2007) and a pending affiliation with Fort Hamilton Hospital in Hamilton.
“It is obvious the Kettering Health Network is in a much better position than it was when Frank got there,” said Bryan Bucklew of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association. “He elevated Kettering to a point where they’re definitely a leader in the community.”
Perez and his wife of 44 years, Carmen, plan to stay in Kettering. Perez said he’ll remain active in causes that further the arts, human services and economic development, but also looks forward to fishing and spending more time with his family, including three grandchildren.
Jim Leftwich, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition, called Perez “an exceptional leader and community trailblazer.”
“From the beginning of his tenure on our board ... he has been an invaluable advocate for our region,” Leftwich wrote in a prepared statement. “This was especially true during the BRAC (Base Closure and Realignment Commission) process, reaching out to the San Antonio, Texas, community where the medical missions are coming from.”
Tom Breitenbach, chief executive officer of Premier Health Partners, has worked with Perez through GDAHA.
“He’s very affable and very community-oriented, and that makes it very easy to work with him,” said Breitenbach, who said he and Perez share a commitment to improve the region’s clinical quality of care.
Perez was recruited to give Kettering Medical Center a more external focus, Breitenbach said.
“He’s certainly been a positive influence on the Kettering network,” Breitenbach said.