After many long, reflective conversations with my wife Jean and my children, I have made the decision to retire from my current position as Regional President, Central Market effective June 30, 2019.
Anyone who knows me, or has ever worked with me, easily recognizes that I love my job and the important work we all do every day. I am confident that everyone I know also appreciates the fact that I have the highest regard for all of the leaders and team members with whom I have worked over the past 32 years. I feel truly thankful for the career I have enjoyed, yet I have recently been thinking a lot about my family, as well. My thoughts have led me to the realization that it is now time for me to focus on my love for, and commitment to, my family. In particular, I need to take advantage of the opportunity to celebrate life, love, and happiness with my dearest wife, while we are both healthy enough to enjoy these precious gifts.
It is no secret that I am extremely proud of my family. For years, and even decades, they have patiently waited on the sidelines while I routinely left home well before sunrise and arrived home well after supper. Jean and I have three great kids – Lauren, Mark, and Meghan – and my retirement will allow us the opportunity to spend more time with them enjoying their lives and sharing their experiences. And then there’s our most recent pride and joy – our grandchildren Joseph, Violet and Rita – who deserve to be showered with love and attention and to spend more time at the beach, fishing or searching for seashells, with Grandma and Grandpa. Coincidentally, I promised Joseph I would take him fishing just a few minutes before I started to write this letter – a promise I’m committed to fulfilling. For those of you who know how I tend to get sea sick just standing on the beach watching the waves roll in, I’m sure you will get a real chuckle at the idea of “Grandpa Ray, the fisherman.”
As you can imagine, this is a major life decision for me and it is being made with mixed emotions. Please know that I am truly torn. I have absolutely loved my years at JFK and I have thoroughly enjoyed my new role as Regional President of the Central Market. The decision to join Hackensack Meridian Health ranks high among the greatest decisions ever made at JFK. Hackensack Meridian Health and JFK have an exceptionally bright future. I would not have been able to bring myself to this decision if JFK was not in such a stellar position and proudly serving as the academic “hub” of the Central Market.
Equally important is the fact that the JFK medical staff, Board and committee members, Auxiliary, leadership team and team members of JFK, comprising extraordinary talents and commitment to the communities we serve, has never been stronger in JFK’s history. Recognizing I am likely already dealing with the various stages of loss, at the heart of this will be the incredible sense of loss I will experience no longer having daily interactions with the incredible team members at JFK, Raritan Bay, Bayshore, and Riverview and at the Hackensack Meridian Health Network. While it is impossible to single out and name the legions of individuals in my mind, I would like nevertheless to express my gratitude for all of your dedication, innovation, and hard work throughout the years. Without each and every one of you, we would not have been able to be so incredibly successful in achieving our ambitious goals.
Similarly, I would like to recognize the terrific leaders I have worked with throughout my career. At JFK, the list is extensive: the talented and hard-working VPs, the forward-looking Leaders and Presidents of the JFK Medical Staff, the highly committed and gifted attending and staff physicians, and the many remarkable professionals who have served on the JFK System Board, the JFK Medical Center Board, and the Hartwyck Board. And when I think of the support I have received from our Boards, I must at least recognize the incredibly valuable and collaborative partnership I have had with the Chair of JFK, Dr. Michael Kleiman.
I would also like to express my gratitude for the support and inspiration I have received working closely with Chief Executive Officer, Bob Garrett, and all of the Hackensack Meridian Health Leaders for the past many months. These have been some of the most talented colleagues and collaborators that I have had the pleasure of working with in my entire career. As a leadership team, and as individual leaders, they continue to deliver on their promises to advance the role and capacities of JFK and all our facilities in the Central Market, in order to more fully meet the needs of the communities we serve.
In closing, I would like to share a familiar quote attributed to Dr. Seuss, a favorite author of my granddaughter, Violet. The sentiment is quite fitting as my retirement approaches: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I know I will certainly smile every time I think of my time at JFK and Hackensack Meridian Health. I will be forever grateful that all of you “happened” to me.