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Gary Fybel

Scripps executive ready for next frontier of health care

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Gary Fybel is at the precipice of exciting advances in the health care industry. As chief executive and senior vice president of Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, he’s working to further a 25-year master plan that will create a modern, multibillion-dollar hospital complex, while also witnessing the rapid evolution of medicine, technology and health care reform.

The first piece of the new Scripps La Jolla campus is framed and anticipated for occupancy in April 2015, Fybel said. As the first of three planned towers, it will be the hub of the $456 million Prebys Cardiovascular Institute, furthering Scripps’ work in heart care and research. Scripps is already considered the largest heart care provider in the San Diego region, serving more than 55,000 cardiovascular patients annually.

Creating a cardiovascular institute that will meet the hospital’s future needs is no small task when the medical device industry and the wireless industry are continually inventing new treatments, Fybel concedes.

“That’s why we rely on the wisdom of our physicians,” Fybel said, noting Scripps works with a number of experts through its steering committees. “We really tap into that think tank.

“Health care is the next frontier. We all know how wireless technology has been used for communications, and now we’ll see where it can be put to use within personal health,” he said.

“Doctors are able to go places in the body they haven’t gone before. Physicians are getting smarter, and figuring out how to access these places that used to require surgery.”

Fybel joined the Scripps Health system in August 2000, but has worked in the field for nearly 40 years. He recalls that the social insurance program Medicare had been around for less than a decade when he started out, and since then the evolution of health care financing has been significant.

“The changes in health care reform can’t help but be dramatic, as we have improved access to 40 million Americans who didn’t previously have access,” he said. “On the flipside, we’re going to see a shortage of health care providers as the need exceeds the number of people who’ve entered the work force.”

Attracting talent to the health care industry is among the concerns of the American College of Healthcare Executives for San Diego and Imperial counties, for which Fybel is midway through a three-year term as the elected regent. He was elected to lead the professional organization of health care executives based on his years of experience and training. Fybel said it’s a great opportunity to mentor what he calls “early careerists” on the inner workings of the profession he loves.

Said Fybel: “I feel like I have the best job in San Diego. Life is good.”

-McEntee is a San Diego-based freelance writer.

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