Froedtert and ThedaCare's 1st 100 days as a combined 18-hospital system

Imran Andrabi, MD, is more than 100 days into his role as president of the newly combined 18-hospital system in Wisconsin formed by Froedtert Health and ThedaCare, and he's quick to note this timeline. 

"Not that I'm counting, but it's day 103," Dr. Andrabi told Becker's April 12. "I say that out loud often because it's important to remember it's been a short time since we have come together. There was a lot of work that was done beforehand. But now it's allowed teams across the system to come together and start having some meaningful conversations." 

Milwaukee-based Froedtert and Neenah, Wis.-based ThedaCare finalized their merger agreement and launched a combined system in January. The combined system announced its board of directors in February, and it is now in the first phase of integration. 

Dr. Andrabi —who will assume the dual role of president and CEO of Froedtert ThedaCare Health when current CEO Catherine Jacobson retires this summer — said this phase includes various discussions among team members.

"Where I find there's a tremendous amount of synergy is around our mission and vision and values and why we came together to create an organization that creates value for the people of our communities," he said. "We are both very quality and safety centric. We are both very community centric, and also very intentional about the Wisconsin connection. Led by people in Wisconsin, governed by people in Wisconsin, for the people of Wisconsin."

Dr. Andrabi said several hundred clinicians between Froedtert and ThedaCare legacy systems and the Medical College of Wisconsin have also come together to learn from each other and to see where the opportunities are to advance population health.

From a leadership perspective, he has known Ms. Jacobson for about a decade since he was president and CEO of Mercy Health-Toledo (Ohio) Region. 

He said he's also had a good working relationship with Ms. Jacobson since coming to Wisconsin in 2017 as president and CEO of ThedaCare. Ms. Jacobson was president and CEO of Froedtert Health before the merger with ThedaCare.

"We often will say that we finish each other's sentences," said Dr. Andrabi. "She's been an excellent leader in terms of being inclusive and running things by me. We're texting each other, calling each other all the time. So it's been a great experience up to this point where we have open lines of communication." 

He and Ms. Jacobson are splitting the work ahead of the leadership transition this summer. Dr. Andrabi is focused on all things related to operations and integration. Ms. Jacobson is focused on governance issues. 

"Her presence is going to be missed, and she needs to be respected and honored for what she's been able to accomplish," Dr. Andrabi said. "I personally have a lot of respect for her, and I'm grateful I've had the opportunity to do what I'm going to do and the opportunity to work with her during this time so we have a smooth transition."

Moving forward, he said he is focused on staying connected to the organization's purpose.

"Staying true to the true north is very important. To have humility is very important because this work is complex, and you have people's lives you're dealing with," said Dr. Andrabi. "... Having curiosity is [also] important. Healthcare is changing so rapidly. No one has all the answers. But if we're curious and we're asking the right questions, hopefully we can be adaptive and learn and understand and pivot appropriately to respond."

Another priority of the combined system is "making sure we understand it's our privilege and honor to serve, not the other way around," he said.

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