Cleveland native Dr. Randy Jernejcic first realized his love for China in medical faculty at Ohio State College. He spent the summer time of 1994 working at a hospital in Wuhan, a metropolis that on the time had few foreigners coming by means of.
“It began off my actual lengthy historical past of going again to China and collaborating in several elements of healthcare in China,” Jernejcic mentioned.
Jernejcic will quickly return to the county of greater than 1.4 billion folks as CEO of Chengdu Wanda UPMC Worldwide Hospital, China’s first hospital run by an American educational medical middle. The five hundred-bed hospital nonetheless beneath development is slated to open in March 2023. It is the primary of 5 hospitals UPMC plans to develop with Wanda Group, a multinational conglomerate based mostly in Beijing that makes a speciality of movie and actual property.
There was a comparatively small pool of individuals certified for the highest job at UPMC’s Chengdu hospital, and Jernejcic matches the invoice. He is an American educated doctor who has held management roles at hospitals each within the U.S. and China. He comes from College Hospitals of Cleveland, the place he began in 2017 and was most not too long ago vp of ambulatory high quality and scientific transformation.
From 2010 to 2012, Jernejcic was chief medical officer of the Beijing marketplace for United Household Hospital, a privately owned system with hospitals in six main cities in China. His position included oversight of the Beijing hospital, ambulatory clinics and rehabilitation hospitals. The hospital served largely expatriates—sufferers got here from 90 different international locations—which Jernejcic mentioned informs the mannequin for the Chengdu hospital.
Jernejcic’s ties to China are private as properly. His spouse of 25 years is from there and he adopted his daughter from China as properly.
The healthcare programs in China and the U.S. have comparable challenges: ballooning prices and rising persistent illness charges. These are notably troublesome points in China due to its a lot bigger inhabitants and the truth that main care is nearly nonexistent, Jernejcic mentioned.
“So that enormous inhabitants tends to go to the hospitals for a lot of their care, which actually places that burden on the hospitals versus how we unfold it out with main care,” he mentioned. “That was one of many large variations I noticed early on, and it continues to be one of many massive variations.”
Selling and delivering main care might be an enormous focus for UPMC’s Chengdu hospital, along with the apparent specialties like oncology, cardiology and orthopedics. It is one factor to repair a affected person’s hip, it is one other to offer a broad continuum of look after that affected person and their household, Jernejcic mentioned.
“The standard specialties are vital, however we actually must be that differentiator with main care and the way they join,” he mentioned.
Throughout his time in Beijing, Jernejcic mentioned Chinese language medical doctors regarded him skeptically, assuming he would attempt to make them into American medical doctors. When he returns to China, Jernejcic mentioned he’ll promote a tradition of harnessing the very best elements of each medical programs and never making an attempt to alter one into the opposite.
“Plenty of people tend to go in and say: ‘Let me present you ways we do that,'” he mentioned. “I needed to alter that round as a result of I feel we’re so significantly better if we construct upon one another, not simply on one aspect. That is the body of reference I need to take going into this.”
Jernejcic mentioned he tries to think about if a Chinese language firm opened a hospital in Pittsburgh run by Chinese language suppliers. Individuals could be equally skeptical. “In some methods, it isn’t too completely different,” he mentioned.
Jernejcic formally takes the helm Feb. 1. He’ll spend the primary six months of his tenure in Pittsburgh planning the hospital’s opening. The hospital was initially slated to open in mid-2022 however that was delayed as a result of Wanda elevated its funding to improve the hospital design and gear.
The most important activity forward is hiring. UPMC has a workers of about 20 folks in China plus a good greater staff in Pittsburgh, however they’re going to want many extra to workers a 500-bed facility. A lot of the recruitment might be in Chengdu and elsewhere in China, however Jernejcic mentioned he is additionally searching for folks educated within the U.S. and Europe.
“We consider having that variety within the medical workers and administrative workers will solely make us higher,” he mentioned.
With the ability to converse Chinese language shouldn’t be a requirement, even for some caregiver roles, since many Chinese language converse English fluently, Jernejcic mentioned.
Wanda’s operations had been closely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, however UPMC mentioned that hasn’t derailed their enterprise, first introduced in October 2019. Wanda is funding the hospitals’ development and working prices, whereas UPMC will handle the amenities beneath an settlement with Wanda.
China’s public hospitals are struggling to maintain up with demand, and the nation’s authorities has inspired the event of personal hospitals. To that finish, the federal government has since 2014 allowed hospitals to be wholly foreign-owned, up from the 70% cap that had existed beforehand.
Jernejcic mentioned it is unclear what quantity of the hospital’s sufferers will depend on authorities insurance coverage versus non-public insurance coverage, which has turn out to be more and more frequent in China. Chengdu has a large expatriate inhabitants as properly, so UPMC might want to work out the right way to serve sufferers with medical health insurance from their house international locations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has difficult the hospital’s planning in that it is restricted the flexibility to journey between the international locations, Jernejcic mentioned. That mentioned, key leaders will journey from Pittsburgh to Chengdu to get issues up and working.
“There’s going to be a number of timing of parents going backwards and forwards,” Jernejcic mentioned. “Whereas that provides to the price of the venture, we consider it is so important to that interconnectivity between Pittsburgh and Chengdu.”