When he was tapped to become president of the medical staff of Cedars Medical Center, Francisco A. Kerdel, M.D., didn’t know that six months later he would play a principal part in a transaction that would forever change the 47-year-old hospital.
On December 1, when the University of Miami purchased Cedars from HCA and renamed it University of Miami Hospital, Kerdel became an executive middleman of sorts for the Cedars team of community physicians and UM doctors. He was uniquely qualified for the role because before he went into private practice four years ago, he was a UM physician. In fact, while at UM, Kerdel became the first doctor to head up the in-patient dermatology operation UM started within Cedars; it was one of four Miller School specialties—along with hepatology, orthopaedics, and urology—to launch partnerships with the hospital nearly two decades ago.
“I know both cultures very well, and it is my belief that the hospital will succeed with this new strong academic input from the University physicians,” says Kerdel, a dermatologist, who, as president of the UM Hospital medical staff, describes himself as the “conduit” who ensures both sets of doctors are on the same page.
“But there is no fear that the University is taking over and running the hospital with a purely academic flavor without looking out for the community physicians,” he says. “That doesn’t exist because UM was already here with the four specialties, and that has created the strong relationship we now have.”
Kerdel’s own relationship with the Miller School is “unique,” he says. Along with his “president of the medical staff” title, he is a UM voluntary faculty member and continues to oversee the in-patient dermatology service at UM Hospital, in addition to attending to his private patients, facilitating Grand Rounds, teaching, and working with dermatology residents.
“In essence, not much has changed for me, with the exception that I’m no longer full-time faculty,” Kerdel says. “I have always felt I’m part of UM.”
It was UM that brought Kerdel to Florida in 1986. He was looking for the right opportunity in a place he could call home after years of studying in far-away locales. Though he was born in New York, he lived there only five months before his family moved back to Venezuela. At 15 it was off to a British boarding school followed by medical school in London. He did his residency at Harvard (he was chief resident in dermatology from 1983-84) and held fellowships at Guy’s Hospital in London and the Department of Dermatology at New York University.
Kerdel’s family is now firmly ensconced in South Florida, a place his wife, Isabella, has come to love. His daughter, Christina, 25, is studying to become a physician’s assistant, and his son, Franz, 22, a UM grad, is planning to attend medical school—at UM.
Kerdel, who speaks fluent Spanish, is an expert on Latin American medical affairs. He has already offered his services in helping UM Hospital and the Miller School create an even greater presence in that region.
“What’s happening now with the hospital is another phase of my time in Miami,” Kerdel says. “But I see nothing but success ahead. The ultimate goal is to make UM Hospital the premier hospital in South Florida, and that serves both UM and the community physicians. All the signs I see now are encouraging.”