36 Chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Univer­sity of Colorado Hos­pi­tal

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS - —Dave Barkholz

THOMAS GRONOW HAD DREAMED of be­ing a pi­lot from the time he was 5 years old.

He was just about to grad­u­ate from renowned avi­a­tion school Em­bry-Rid­dle Aero­nau­ti­cal Univer­sity in Day­tona Beach, Fla., when ter­ror­ists hi­jacked com­mer­cial air­lin­ers on Sept. 11, 2001, and slammed them into the World Trade Cen­ter and the Pen­tagon.

When the tourism in­dus­try im­me­di­ately col­lapsed as well, Gronow knew it would be years of low-pay­ing jobs teach­ing fly­ing lessons be­fore he ever got a shot at a com­mer­cial po­si­tion. So he aban­doned his dream to pur­sue a master’s de­gree in health­care ad­min­is­tra­tion, af­ter which he quickly found a home at the UPMC health sys­tem as chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of its Mercy Hos­pi­tal in Pitts­burgh.

Then in 2014, he took his cur­rent po­si­tion at the Univer­sity of Colorado Hos­pi­tal in Aurora af­ter turn­ing down three other job of­fers for sim­i­lar po­si­tions. Gronow said he was at­tracted to the growth po­ten­tial of the then-4-year-old aca­demic health sys­tem, which has plans to spend $1.5 bil­lion to build five hospi­tals over the next five years.

“The real big fac­tor for me was cul­ture. When I walked into this or­ga­ni­za­tion, it was pal­pa­ble how sup­port­ive this cul­ture is, how aligned it is in treat­ing the pa­tient holis­ti­cally, and it had out­comes that matched that cul­ture,” Gronow said. “It’s a grow­ing sys­tem. Op­por­tu­ni­ties abound. We’ll be open­ing five hospi­tals and mul­ti­ple am­bu­la­tory surgery sites. And there’s a path­way for me to move into a CEO spot down the road.”

Since tak­ing the COO role at the Univer­sity of Colorado Hos­pi­tal, Gronow has guided the oper­a­tion to $1.44 bil­lion in rev­enue and a 22% EBITDA mar­gin.

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