||Frank Cirillo, Senior Vice President and Chief Restructuring Officer
As a young accountant working for the State of New York more than 30 years ago, Frank Cirillo was assigned to conduct audits of the state psychiatric institutions. “It was depressing. I asked them to move me. So they put me on Rikers Island,” Cirillo said with a laugh.
But that early experience was the beginning of a career in which he often has had to focus on tough tasks, leading change, looking for efficiencies in operations, and getting the job done under difficult circumstances.
And it was certainly difficult times when HHC President Alan D. Aviles summoned Chief Operating Officer Cirillo to his office a year ago and asked him to take on the assignment of Chief Restructuring Officer, in charge of reorganizing HHC to maintain high quality patient care while cutting costs. The change was needed to eliminate a $1.2 billion budget gap borne of decreasing Medicaid dollars, increasing numbers of uninsured patients, and an increase in the costs of employee pensions and other benefits.
With 29 years of service to the public hospitals system, including long tenures as Chief Internal Auditor and COO, Cirillo has seen plenty of change at HHC. He has developed extensive knowledge of how HHC operates and valuable relationships with the people who work here, Aviles said.
“Frank is a can-do manager and many times in the past I and other HHC Presidents have turned to him when we had difficult assignments,” Aviles said.
Cirillo has led several major efforts at HHC including the restructuring of dietary services to a system that dramatically reduced expenses without diminishing patient satisfaction. It has become the model for HHC’s efforts to focus on its core mission of delivering patient care and to contract out other ancillary services.
Cirillo also has been a leader in negotiating, together with the City Office of Labor Relations, collective bargaining agreements with multiple parent and local unions for a workforce of 38,000, and negotiating affiliation contracts worth $800 million with several medical schools and physician professional corporations to secure the services of more than 7,000 physicians, technicians, and other clinical care providers.
Cirillo said this is the toughest economic climate in his 29 years at HHC. At the end of the four-year restructuring process, HHC will have lost 3,700 jobs, and some of that will have to come through layoffs.
“Our core mission is healthcare. I never take lightly somebody losing their job. But when you really look at the decisions made, it was really to preserve HHC’s mission,” he said.
Cirillo moved with his family from Brooklyn to Staten Island in 1964, a few months before the Verrazano Narrows Bridge opened. His father worked in a plant in meat and provisions. It was his mother, an accountant and bookkeeper, who strongly influenced Cirillo’s career choice.
“I credit my mom. She’s the one who urged me to go to college and concentrate in accounting,” said Cirillo. His younger sister is a public school teacher on Staten Island.
The Cirillo family is going to have a busy summer: Frank’s son, Joe, is getting married and Frank and wife, JoAnne, will be celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary.
Cirillo, who now lives in New Jersey, recently started taking golf lessons with a pro and plans to play a lot more golf after he leaves HHC one day. He also plans to stay busy doing consulting work.
Cirillo points out that St. Clare’s Hospital, where he was born, is closed now as the Catholic healthcare system has been eliminated hospital by hospital in the city. The last Catholic hospital in New York, St. Vincent’s, closed in April. That leaves HHC as the only safety net healthcare system in the city.
“We don’t want that to happen to HHC,” he said. “There are too many lives depending on us.”