CEO of Chicago Public Hospitals to Take the Helm of HHC

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A former Lutheran Hospital surgeon and Staten Island resident is moving back to New York to lead the country’s largest public hospital system.

Dr. Ram Raju spent two years at the helm of Cooks County Health and Hospitals System in Chicago. It is the third largest public hospital network in the United States, but is about one-fifth the size of New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, which consists of 11 hospitals and numerous clinics, labs, and other facilities.

Before moving to Chicago, Raju spent five years at HHC. He was a top administrator at Coney Island Hospital and later became HHC’s chief medical officer, chief operating officer, and executive vice president. At HHC, Raju helped oversee a long-term plan to reduce a $1.2 billion annual deficit.

HHC has reduced staff, outsourced laundry and other services to private companies, and modified relationships with the city’s academic medical centers. The system continues to face fiscal challenges in the years ahead. The state and federal governments are dramatically reducing hospital funding, in anticipation of more people being covered by insurance -- but HHC will continue to treat tens of thousands of patients each year who won't be covered by the Medicaid expansion or the new health exchanges.

“The Affordable Care Act leaves behind a large number of people who are uninsurable, because they are undocumented,” Raju said. “Health and Hospitals has always served these people and will continue to serve them.”

In announcing the appointment, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the challenges facing Raju “will require all of his extraordinary experience to find a way forward that is fiscally responsible but will be able to serve the many, many people we are charged with serving.”

Raju was born in Madras, India, where he went to medical school, before moving to England and the United States for further training. He holds an M.B.A. from the University of Tennessee.

Raju succeeds Alan Aviles, who has led HHC since 2005.