Thomas Jefferson University on Tuesday announced a new president for its health-care operations, which include 14 general hospitals and four specialty hospitals and employ at least 27,000 people.
Baligh R. Yehia, most recently a senior vice president and head of the physician group at Ascension, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit health systems, will join Jefferson on Jan. 17, Jefferson said.
Thomas Jefferson University’s CEO, Joseph G. Cacchione, came to Jefferson in September from Ascension, which is based in St. Louis. “Having had the opportunity to work with Dr. Yehia previously, I’ve witnessed firsthand his passion for improving community health, as well as his acumen for accelerating transformation and driving growth,” Cacchione said in a news release.
Yehia, an internal medicine physician with an expertise in HIV medicine, will succeed Bruce A. Meyer, who left Jefferson last month to become an executive vice president at Highmark Health, with responsibility for both health insurance and hospital operations.
A Jefferson spokesperson said Yehia, 40, was not available for interviews Tuesday.
Yehia, who completed an infectious diseases fellowship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania early in his career, will join Jefferson at a time when hospitals nationwide are struggling to regain their financial footing after COVID-19, shifts in the labor market, changes in the way people receive health services, and widespread inflation made it harder for them to operate profitably.
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Both Jefferson and Ascension had operating losses in their fiscal years ended June 30. Ascension, which has 139 hospitals in 19 states, is much larger, with $28 billion in revenue compared to Jefferson’s $8 billion.
During this difficult financial period for health systems, Jefferson has the added challenge of integrating a business that grew from three hospitals in 2015 to 18 last year under the leadership of former CEO Stephen K. Klasko. The most recent acquisitions, completed late last year, were Health Partners Plans Inc., a nonprofit Medicaid and Medicare insurer, and Einstein Healthcare Network, in a deal that was delayed by an unsuccessful federal challenge on antitrust grounds.
Yehia will join a Jefferson leadership team that has seen significant turnover since the beginning of 2020. Of 24 senior executives listed on Jefferson’s website then, only 10 remain on the current roster of leaders.