A fond farewell

What began as a medical residency in 1976 stretched into a more than 30-year career at VCU for Sheldon M. Retchin, M.D., M.S.P.H., who left in January 2015 from his post as CEO of VCU Health System and senior vice president for VCU Health Sciences.

Retchin took a wealth of experience to his new role at Ohio State University but left behind a multitude of achievements that elevated the status of VCU Medical Center, from huge gains in patient care to a sound financial report card for the $2.2 billion operation.

“Sheldon has shown exemplary leadership as the health system’s leader for the past 12 years,” said Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and VCU Health System. “His unwavering commitment to patients, fiscal excellence, cutting-edge facilities and team building helped propel VCU Health System into a nationally premier institution.”

Under Retchin’s leadership, VCU Medical Center went from a financially struggling organization to one of the strongest health systems in the region, became a multihospital system by partnering with Community Memorial Hospital in South Hill, Virginia, and the Children’s Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, and implemented a “Safety First” mission that earned the prestigious American Hospital Association-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize.

The MCV Campus transformed under his watch with the addition of innovative facilities including the:

  • $41.5 million Goodwin Research Laboratory at Massey Cancer Center (2006)
  • $17 million School of Nursing building (2007)
  • $192 million Critical Care Hospital (2008)
  • $71.5 million Molecular Medicine Research Building (2009)
  • $20 million dental school addition (2009)
  • $158.6 million School of Medicine building (2013)
  • $168 million Children’s Hospital of Richmond Pavilion (under construction)

The 15-level Critical Care Hospital, Virginia’s only hospital devoted solely to critical care, stands among his finest accomplishments. The hospital caters to patients who need intensive care, with an expanded burn unit and floors dedicated to neonatal, neurosurgery, cardiology, trauma, respiratory and oncology services.

Retchin also recruited a standout team of leaders including the duo who stepped in to serve on an interim basis after his departure: Jerome F. Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the VCU School of Medicine and executive vice president for medical affairs, who is now serving as interim vice president for health sciences and interim CEO of VCU Health System, and John F. Duval, who is now serving as vice president for clinical services and CEO of VCU Hospitals.

Strauss lauded Retchin’s tenure and his work to raise the bar at VCU Medical Center in addition to fostering academics and research on the MCV Campus.

“His leadership was one of the reasons I chose to come to Richmond in 2005,” Strauss said. “His energy and vision has transformed our campus.”

Duval said that Retchin’s departure is a bittersweet moment for him and other colleagues: “We’re sad to lose such a visionary leader, but happy for Sheldon as he takes this next step in his career.”