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Boston Medical Center CEO to Retire

Elaine Ullian has guided the center through change and growth

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Elaine Ullian, who led Boston Medical Center (BMC) to become one of the nation’s leading teaching safety-net hospitals, has announced that she will retire as president and CEO when her contract expires in January 2010.

Ullian was recruited by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino (Hon.’01) to run the hospital when it was created by the merger of Boston City Hospital and Boston University Medical Center Hospital in 1996, the nation’s first merger of a public hospital and a private academic medical center. The hospital now has more than 6,000 employees, 1,400 physicians, and an annual operating budget of roughly $2.5 billion.

Ullian announced her plans to retire in a letter sent to hospital staff on Tuesday, July 28.

“The years have flown by, and together, we built an important, effective, and extraordinary medical center that is a national model of an academic medical center committed to the most vulnerable populations,” she wrote.

Ted English, chair of the BMC Board of Trustees, who will lead the search for a new president, says finding a replacement for Ullian will be a challenge.

“Elaine lived and breathed the hospital’s mission,” English says. “The staff and patients became her extended family.”

Under Ullian’s leadership, the hospital achieved a number of significant milestones. Among them:

  • Construction of the Moakley Building to enhance cancer care.
  • Strengthening the community health center system to expand services and access to Boston’s neighborhoods.
  • Creating and building BMC’s HealthNet Plan into the largest managed care organization for low-income residents in Massachusetts.
  • Creating an extensive interpreter services program, with more than 30 languages available on site, a therapeutic food pantry that is the only one of its kind in the country, and the Child Witness to Violence Project, which works with children who are the hidden victims as bystanders to community and domestic violence.
  • Growing patient volume by 32 percent and outpatient volume by 52 percent in a decade.

Ullian is a School of Public Health associate professor and a member of the faculty at the Harvard University School of Public Health. She also is a member of the Boston Public Health Commission and is the former chair of the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals.

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