Suresh Gunasekaran will leave his position overseeing the University of Iowa hospital system at the end of February to head the University of California, San Francisco health system.
“It isn’t so much that there was something lacking here, as much as the opportunity to have an impact there,” Gunasekaran told reporters Tuesday.
Gunasekaran has served as chief executive officer of the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics since 2018. He will begin serving as CEO in San Francisco on March 1, joining one of the top-ranked medical centers in the United States.
UIHC will conduct a national search to find his replacement. The hospital system is expected to name an interim “soon,” according to a news release.
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Gunasekaran’s departure comes just after the Iowa health-care system got the green light from its governing body to begin planning a decade’s worth of expansions and renovations on its Iowa City campus. UIHC is also in the midst of building a new hospital in North Liberty.
Gunasekaran will make a base salary of $1.85 million at the San Francisco medical center, a bump from his $1.1 million annual pay in Iowa. He was recruited for the new position in 2021 as part of a national search.
On a personal level, Gunasekaran said, it was hard to resist the pull of the job in San Francisco. But he said UI is a “collaborative, special place that’s really valued by the state and valued by this community.”
“Part of what makes me even consider and be able to move forward with another career decision is that UI health care is in such strong hands here. It’s always been a team effort; I was just one member of the team,” he added.
Brooks Jackson, UI’s vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, praised Gunasekaran on Tuesday for his vision, operational sense and leadership amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Clearly, (I’d) not like him to leave. But I am very pleased for him at the same time. It is a real opportunity, and just speaks well of how highly he has performed here at the University of Iowa,” Jackson said.
More on UIHC this month:UIHC to move forward with projects that could increase capacity by 50% over next decade
Cleo Krejci covers education for the Iowa City Press-Citizen. You can reach her at [email protected].