Jefferson Health System CEO to retire at year's end

Joseph T. Sebastianelli, Jefferson CEO and president, will step down at year's end. He called "disappointing"the 2008 loss of Einstein and Frankford.
Joseph T. Sebastianelli, Jefferson CEO and president, will step down at year's end. He called "disappointing"the 2008 loss of Einstein and Frankford.
Posted: July 20, 2013

After serving as Jefferson Health System's president and chief executive officer for more than 11 years, Joseph T. Sebastianelli said Thursday that he would step down at year's end.

"Health care is going through tremendous change and [Jefferson] will be going through change as well, so I think a new leader coming on will be critical to really take the system through its next evolution," said Sebastianelli, who said the decision to leave was his. "Now is a perfect time."

Jefferson is Southeastern Pennsylvania's largest health system by beds and admissions. Its current facilities more than doubled total annual revenue to $3.1 billion during Sebastianelli's tenure.

Of the system's biggest accomplishments under his leadership, Sebastianelli, 67, cited its recent ranking as one of the top five large health systems in the country by Thomson Reuters, based on quality measures like mortality as well as patient-satisfaction scores. He also pointed to the system's AA bond rating, the only one in Southeastern Pennsylvania, he said.

Not everyone in the city has been impressed with his record. "By and large, I think that it's been neutral to disappointing," said Gerald Katz, a Philadelphia health-care consultant. During Sebastianelli's time at the helm, the University of Pennsylvania Health System's net patient revenue, about $3.2 billion in 2011, surpassed Jefferson's.

There were also the 2008 departures of two large systems from Jefferson: Albert Einstein Health Network and Frankford Health Care System, now Aria Health. "It's not that I'm saying he caused it to happen," Katz said, "but he didn't prevent it from happening."

Sebastianelli called the loss of the two systems disappointing, but added that the Jefferson system was "trying to find its financial footing" and that Einstein and Aria made decisions that were best for them.

The system's hospitals include Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals and Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Center City, and the Main Line Health System, which has Bryn Mawr Hospital, Bryn Mawr Rehab, Lankenau Medical Center, Paoli Hospital, and Riddle Hospital.

No decisions on a replacement have been made, but a search is underway. Sebastianelli doesn't plan to stay on as a consultant.

"My sense is to get away for a while, so I think we'll head west. Let the new people come in and let them get their own stride. The farther away the old boss is, the better," Sebastianelli said. "At this point, I'd like to take some personal time."


Contact Curtis Skinner at 215-854-2930 or cskinner@philly.com, or follow on Twitter @CurtisOrion.s

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