New UIHC CEO talks change, controversy, and challenges

    Suresh Gunasekaran says he's focused on keeping UIHC's tradition of excellence, despite numerous challenges for state and national health care.

    With a new leader at the helm, Iowa's largest hospital system is launching a new effort to improve services across the state.

    Entering his third week on the job, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics new CEO Suresh Gunasekaran is taking over an organization with a history of excellence. And some controversy.

    Gunasekaran joins UIHC from the Lone Star state, bringing with him over a decade of experience.

    "For the last 14 years, I was at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas," he says.

    He's served as head of information technology and COO of the health system. He understands obstacles American health care is facing.

    "Across the country, but also in the state of Iowa, our costs of operating continue to increase every year with ever-increasing costs of technology, drugs," he explains.

    He says UIHC specifically is plagued by long wait times and low capacity.

    "In terms of UI Health Care, I think our number one challenge is the high demand for our services. Many times, during the winter months, every bed is going to be full” he says.

    Growth and innovation are his solutions. He plans to partner with outside physicians to offer more care.

    He also expects more investments in clinical trials, minimally invasive procedures, and other ways to meet patients where they are.

    "We'll work more with patients even if they're at their own home,” he explains. “Looking at telemedicine other models."

    Suresh is also inheriting some controversy in the on-going litigation over the construction of Stead Family Children's Hospital.

    "UI Health Care will always meet its obligations and I know that there's a present judicial process. President Herrald's pretty clearly stated our position in that and we'll await the outcome of how that goes," he says.

    Gunasekaran replaces long-time CEO Kens Kates, who retired in October after serving in the position for 10 years.

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