Kirsten Ulve

healthcare

Lunch With D CEO: Erol Akdamar

Upholding a family tradition of healthcare service, Akdamar is bolstering the competitiveness of HCA in North Texas.

It’s not surprising that Erol Akdamar, president of Medical City Healthcare, wanted to meet for lunch in the physicians’ lounge at Medical City Dallas. Before becoming president of HCA Healthcare’s Irving-based North Texas Division in 2013, Akdamar ran the Medical City Dallas and Medical City Children’s hospitals for four years. And, during his tenure, he was responsible for revamping the physicians’ lounge there, quadrupling its size and upgrading its furnishings.

Today the attractive, modernistic lounge serves farm-to-table, fresh, and organic menu options under Chef Miguel Blasini, a former executive chef with Wolfgang Puck. “It was a nice thing to do for the physicians,” says Akdamar, tucking enthusiastically into his lunch of fish, salad, and crawfish soup. “A lot of physician-to-physician relationship-building goes on. When I was [running Medical City Dallas and Medical City Children’s], I’d be in here two or three times a week.”

Akdamar, who’s 50, has been with HCA Healthcare since 1993, when he joined as an administrative resident. The for-profit, Nashville-based giant now has 177 hospitals in 20 U.S. states and the United Kingdom, and Akdamar’s North Texas Division is one of its biggest. His Dallas-Fort Worth operation includes 14 hospitals, 11 ambulatory surgery centers, about 30 CareNow urgent care centers, at least 4,400 physicians, and more than 17,000 employees.

“The macroeconomics are very good for business here. There are a lot of people … a lot of need for services. That’s the opportunity.”

That means it’s one of the dominant healthcare systems in North Texas. Medical City Healthcare has a DFW market share of 17 percent, Akdamar says, making it the No. 3 system in North Texas behind nonprofit market leaders Texas Health Resources (with 23 to 24 percent) and Baylor Scott & White Health, which, according to Akdamar, has about 20 percent.

Medical City has bolstered its competitiveness recently by making several acquisitions—in the fall it snapped up the 103-bed Weatherford Regional Medical Center, for example—and by “elevating the trauma status” of most of its hospitals. (Elevating its trauma status allows a hospital to “do more,” he explains, and “can be accretive” to the bottom line.)

Medical City Healthcare is “blessed that we live in a vibrant marketplace, with strong employment and population growth,” Akdamar says. “The macroeconomics are very good for business here. There are a lot of people, a lot of pathology, a lot of need for services. That’s the opportunity.”

For Akdamar, who is of Turkish descent, you might say that tending to such needs is the family business. His late father, who immigrated to the United States from his native Turkey, was a physician. Akdamar’s two sisters are nurses, and his brother is a gastroenterologist. “I’m in administration, and they still talk to me!” he allows with a smile.

Looking ahead, what are the greatest challenges he sees in the healthcare space? “Funding at the state and national level,” Akdamar replies without hesitation, finishing up his lunch. “Reimbursements, which are typically going down. The regulatory environment. And the labor shortage—especially in nursing, where the workforce is aging.”

Despite such problems, Akdamar concludes, he’s bullish about the future and enjoys “leading through change, and driving positive results across all aspects of our business.” 

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