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Tufts Medical Center CEO Ellen Zane to retire in September; search for new CEO planned


Zane and team credited with transforming the academic medical center

Zane will serve as a Vice Chairman of institution’s Board of Trustees

BOSTON – Ellen Zane, president and CEO of Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children for more than seven transformative years, announced today that she will retire from her current role in the fall. Zane will continue to consult with the hospital for a year after her retirement and will serve as a Vice Chairman of its Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees will begin a comprehensive search for a new CEO to lead the organization into a new era.

“While I look forward to enjoying retirement, this decision is a bittersweet one for me,” Zane said. “I am so proud of what my team and I have accomplished at Tufts Medical Center. I have loved leading the Medical Center and working with the incredible doctors, nurses, administrators, researchers and staff members here. I have never worked with a more dedicated group of people in my career. This decision is far easier because I know we have excellent staff and leadership who will continue to provide a strong direction for this indispensible institution. I look forward to the remaining months of my tenure as CEO and to continuing to provide advice and guidance to the leadership here.”

Over the course of her tenure, Zane pulled Tufts Medical Center back from fiscal crisis and returned it to financial stability. She strengthened its relationship with Tufts University, established its community physician network which now includes 1,500 doctors, and launched its Distributed Academic Medical Center™ model which partners with community hospitals to keep more care locally in the community. Under Zane’s leadership, the hallmark of Tufts Medical Center has been the high-quality care it provides to its patients, the most medically complex patient population of any full service acute-care hospital in the Commonwealth. The Medical Center does so at a lower cost than its academic medical center competitors, providing immense value to patients, employers and the health system as a whole. Zane is the first woman to serve as CEO in the 215-year history of the hospital, which was founded by Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, and is one of the oldest medical institutions in the nation.

“Tufts Medical Center is a dramatically stronger institution today than it was in 2004, when the Board of Trustees and I recruited Ellen Zane to lead Tufts University’s principal teaching hospital,” said Lawrence Bacow, President of Tufts University. “Ellen’s visionary leadership, her foresight and sheer determination have set the Medical Center on a steady course that ensures it will be here to serve patients, train the physicians of tomorrow, and conduct groundbreaking research for many years to come.”

A robust search for Zane’s successor will begin immediately, led by Tufts Medical Center Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas Hollister, COO, CFO and Director of Global Partners LP of Waltham.

“The Board of Trustees is deeply grateful to Ellen for her years of outstanding leadership, dedication and foresight in guiding the hospital through challenging financial times and the rapidly-changing environment of health reform,” Hollister said. “She has taken Tufts Medical Center from a hospital that was struggling to one that is a model for the state and the nation in offering high quality patient care at an efficient cost.”

“Part of Ellen’s genius is surrounding herself with the best possible people.  Ellen and her leadership team has developed and executed a winning strategy over the past seven years. The Hospital is well positioned to expand and innovate from the strong foundation Ellen has established. Tufts Medical Center is an institution of national prominence, and the Board and I look forward to recruiting her successor from an outstanding group of candidates,” Hollister said.

Ellen and her team focused on supporting the great care provided by the Medical Center’s talented doctors and nurses, developing the physician faculty, and establishing a robust community physician network. In 2005, she merged two physician faculty organizations at the Medical Center into one strong and united Physicians Organization, which has grown 27 percent from 430 physicians in 2004 to 547 physicians today. Zane and her team also created New England Quality Care Alliance, the core of the Medical Center’s community health care strategy. NEQCA began with 120 community physicians in addition to the Tufts MC faculty.  Today NEQCA includes 920 community physicians and boasts a total network of 1,500 physicians, the second largest physician network in Massachusetts.

“Ellen has always been passionate about the successful collaboration between caregivers – particularly doctors and nurses – and the hospital,” said Carl Heilman, MD, Neurosurgeon-in-Chief and Chair of Neurosurgery. “We have often heard her say that a hospital is only bricks and mortar without physicians. Our clinicians trust her instincts and know that she has the success of the entire organization in mind when she makes any decision. One of her great strengths has really been building trusted partners in the community.”
Zane and her team have led the way in building a bridge between academic medicine and community medicine, which has provided Tufts MC a strategy for succeeding in the new health care reform environment.  Zane labeled this strategy the “Distributed Academic Medical Center Model” several years ago, long before Accountable Care Organizations were the buzz. This unique model positions Tufts Medical Center to partner with, instead of working against, its community hospital partners. The strategic aim is to improve and maintain local care in the community, bolstered by Tufts Medical Center talent and research. The Medical Center’s strong affiliations with Lowell General Hospital, MetroWest Medical Center, Jordan Hospital, Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital, as well as others, are proof of the effectiveness of the strategy.

“Ellen had the vision to understand how important a community physician network would be to the Medical Center, and she had the insight to know what value such a network could offer doctors and their patients,” said Jeffrey Lasker, M.D., CEO of NEQCA. “Ellen also strongly believed that our overall goal should be to encourage our doctors to strengthen their ties to their local community hospitals, and reserve their referrals to Tufts Medical Center for the most complex cases. Through NEQCA and our affiliations with community hospitals, Ellen and Tufts Medical Center have strengthened primary and secondary health care in Eastern Massachusetts.”

Within Tufts Medical Center’s own community of Chinatown, the Medical Center continues to serve as the local community hospital and its economic engine. Under Zane’s leadership, the hospital has made significant investments in improving Chinatown’s health. The hospital’s Asian Access program currently offers more than ten clinical programs aimed at speakers of Asian languages, along with a robust interpretive services department. Tufts Medical Center is also a major funder of Chinatown non-profit programs, contributing $450,000 in its most recent two-year grant cycle.

Zane has been unfailing in her insistence that the high quality, complex care provided at Tufts Medical Center be recognized and fairly reimbursed. From meetings on Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill to her role as board chair of Massachusetts Hospital Association, in her many speaking engagements, as well as in negotiations with insurers, she has articulately explained that high quality, efficient providers such as Tufts Medical Center are the solution to our health care challenges. Recent groundbreaking reports such as the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Health Care Cost and Quality Report support this position.

Zane established a close and collaborative relationship between Tufts Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine, which today uniquely includes joint recruiting, shared Chairs and complementary governance.  The relationship has become a competitive advantage to both institutions. The Tufts Medical Center logo, with its similarity to the University’s, is a visual brand reminder of the successful connections between three of the region’s premier institutions.  In concert with TUSM, Zane has also elevated the Medical Center’s research mission, establishing the position of Chief Scientific Officer to oversee the hospital’s numerous research centers and institutes. Tufts Medical Center won 68 grants totaling $24.3 million from the recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; its total research enterprise is currently funded at $65 million.

One of Zane’s key accomplishments has been the stabilization and growth of Floating Hospital for Children. Floating Hospital, Tufts Medical Center’s pediatric center, has long been known as a center of excellence for pediatric care, but in the early 2000s the children’s hospital was struggling. Facing poor reimbursements from government and private payers alike, Floating Hospital was losing money and faculty. Zane and physician leadership have propelled a remarkable resurgence at Floating Hospital. Some 35 new faculty have joined the hospital since 2007, and affiliations with local hospitals throughout Eastern Massachusetts have strengthened pediatric care at Floating Hospital and in the community simultaneously.

Zane received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in 1973 and her Master of Arts degree in 1975 from the Catholic University of America in Washington. She began her career as a direct care provider, serving patients as a speech-language pathologist and audiologist. She tackled her first management role at Morton Hospital in Taunton as director of the Speech, Language and Hearing Center. She was called to Quincy Medical Center to help that hospital correct its financial situation and improve its position within the local community health care environment. When she took over at QMC, then Quincy Hospital, the hospital had eight days cash on hand. At the time, Zane was an employee of Hospital Corporation of America who had the management contract to manage Quincy Medical Center.

From Quincy, Zane was called by her future mentor H. Richard Nesson, M.D., to start what was to be the first and eventually the largest physicians’ network in Massachusetts and one of the largest in the nation – Partners Community Healthcare Inc. (PCHI).  From 1994 to 2004, Ellen held the position of Network President for PCHI, the provider network featuring the Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham & Women’s Hospital.  The network encompassed 5,600 physicians.

Zane is well-known for her “management pearls” – advice and wisdom she has gained in her august career. She has provided this advice to many college graduating classes and executive leadership forums. Zane has been a resource to elected officials and business leaders concerning the state of health care in Massachusetts and America. From May 2008 to May 2009, she served as Chair of the Massachusetts Hospital Association Board.

Zane is currently a Director of Parexel International (NASDAQ-PRXL), a Director of Lincare Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ-LNCR), a Director of Fiduciary Trust Company and a Director of Century Capital Management.  She is a Trustee of George Washington University and is a member of the Health Policy and Management Executive Council at the Harvard School of Public Health.  She also is on the Board of Overseers at the Tufts University School of Medicine.


About Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children

Tufts Medical Center is an exceptional, not-for-profit, 415-bed academic medical center that is home to both a full-service hospital for adults and Floating Hospital for Children. Conveniently located in downtown Boston, the Medical Center is the principal teaching hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine. Floating Hospital for Children is the full-service children's hospital of Tufts Medical Center and the principal pediatric teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine. Tufts Medical Center is affiliated with the New England Quality Care Alliance, a network of more than 1,800 physicians throughout Eastern Massachusetts. For more information, please visit

Media Contact: 
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