2017-08-10 / Business News

JOHN COURIS EXIT INTERVIEW

Hospital executive signs off after seven years at the helm of Jupiter Medical Center
BY MARY THURWACHTER

As his tenure as chief executive officer of Jupiter Medical Center comes to an end, John Couris reflects on his seven years with pride and a love for all those who made the hospital’s success unfold.

“Jupiter Medical Center has a special place in my heart and will always have a special place in my heart,” Mr. Couris said during a phone interview a few days before his Aug. 11 departure. “It’s an excellent institution, a world-class institution with wonderful people in it, from our trustees to our volunteers to our doctors, nurses, team members to our philanthropists. We’ve got a really great community of people that either support the medical center or work within the medical center.”

Mr. Couris, 49, is headed to Tampa to become president and CEO of Tampa General Hospital, a private not-for-profit hospital with 1,011 beds and about 7,300 employees.


The 327-bed Jupiter Medical Center opened in 1979. 
COURTESY PHOTO The 327-bed Jupiter Medical Center opened in 1979. COURTESY PHOTO Opened in 1979, Jupiter Medical Center is a 327-bed not-for-profit regional medical center with 207 private acute-care hospital beds and 120 long-term care, sub-acute rehabilitation and hospice beds.

Mr. Couris, who brought growth, nationwide publicity and increased community involvement to the hospital, said he was pleased with what had been accomplished while he was CEO.

“We’ve brought in a whole new system of care that’s patient-centered, that has cutting edge technology, cutting edge facilities and a real collaborative spirit,” he said.

“I’m leaving it in a really good place,” he said. “Jupiter Medical Center is very strong, and people have to realize that. We’re number one in overall patient satisfaction. We’re No. 1 in likelihood-to-recommend. We’re an A-rated hospital for patient safety.”

And the center continues to grow.

“We broke ground on a new oncology building, a new center, and we’re going to start construction in about eight months,” he said. “Our open heart program will be up and running in June of 2018. Construction of our open heart operating rooms will begin in the next couple of months. We’re moving from a primary stroke center to a comprehensive stroke center. We’re opening up more urgent care centers.”

Some expansions during his tenure include the $12 million Margaret W. Niedland Breast Center, with a full spectrum of breast-health services, 3-D imaging, genetic testing and counseling and a healing garden; the $46 million Florence A. De George Pavilion, with 44 patient rooms, opened in January; and the Joe Namath Neurological Research Center, named after the football legend who was the first patient at the center.

Earlier this year, JMC became the first community hospital to partner with Watson, the artificial intelligence wizard that assists cancer care doctors.

The books are looking good, too.

“We’re financially very strong,” he said. “So, when you look at all of this, the team — not John — has done a great job and the organization is on solid ground and it’s going to continue to grow, to prosper. It’s going to continue to be innovative and it’s really going to continue to set the standard of healthcare in this community and this region.”

Has there been something he wanted to do, but couldn’t?

“It’s not about what I haven’t been able to do,” Mr. Couris, 49, said. “What it’s more about, for me, is what I’m not going to see finished. I would have liked to have been here when we did our first open heart surgery. I would have liked to have been here when we treated our first cancer patient in our new cancer center.

“Remember, I’m not leaving for any reason other than I was presented with an opportunity that I couldn’t say no to,” he said. “There’s nothing going on at the institution that would make me want to leave.”

Mr. Couris said Tampa General is considered the crown jewel of healthcare in its community. To go there and to work with University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and its dean is most appealing. He looks forward to the academics and the research.

“I started my career at Massachusetts General Hospital, so I started in academia and it’s sort of like coming full circle,” Mr. Couris said. “It was an opportunity that was impossible to pass up.”

He has some advice for his successor: “Spend a lot of time listening,” he said. “Spend time getting to know and appreciate the culture. Get to know the community outside the medical center. And really work hard at becoming part of the culture and work from within the culture to make the necessary changes that he or she might want to make — but do it in a thoughtful, transparent, authentic, genuine way. Be approachable. Be open-minded. Embrace our physician community because we have a wonderful physician community. And never, ever, ever compromise on quality.”

Everything the hospital provides for the community, he said, centers on the quality provided. “It’s the quality, the clinical outcomes, the safety, the service. Never ever compromise on the quality.”

He stressed the importance of perfect effort — and patience.

“When it comes to process, when it comes to operational excellence, I am patient, but I am demanding,” he said. “When it comes to certain strategic initiatives, I can push pretty hard. When we as an organization make a decision to do something, we do it with a great deal of discipline, focus and pace. We don’t belabor it.”

Mr. Couris has been active in the community, too. He served on the board of the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, MyClinic (a free clinic for the uninsured), the Loggerhead Marinelife Center and The Honda Classic.

He was awarded the “Healthcare Professional of the Year” in 2014 by the Chamber of the Palm Beaches and also was named the “Healthcare Business Leader of the Year” by the Palm Beach Medical Society.

Before moving to Jupiter, Mr. Couris, who is a graduate of Boston University and has a master’s of science in management from Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., was chief operating officer/administrator for Morton Plant North Bay Hospital, part of the BayCare Health System in Tampa Bay.

His final thoughts about leaving?

“At the end of the day as I sign off on Aug. 11, I would say it has been truly an honor and a privilege to be a leader at Jupiter Medical Center,” Mr. Couris said. “I have learned a tremendous amount from my team members and my trustees and my physicians. I have learned as much as I have given. It’s been wonderful. I have zero regrets. It has been an incredible ride. And it’s going to be great to see Jupiter Medical Center continue to grow and expand and flourish.” ¦

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