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Tracey Zudans is named to Hospital District

Photo: Tracy Zudans

At what appears to be a critical juncture in the 85-year history of Indian River Medical Center, Gov. Rick Scott has appointed Tracey Zudans to the Indian River County Hospital District Board.

She will fill the seat vacated in March by the surprise resignation of Dr. Omar Hussamy, who had been elected to the Hospital District board only four months earlier.

Zudans is the wife of ophthalmologist Val Zudans, who lost his seat on the board in the same election after being appointed by the governor in late 2015.

Val Zudans, who lost to Karen Deigl in the November vote, has been a vocal advocate for the hospital giving up its independent status.

He has suggested that it should join a non-profit hospital group like Orlando’s Florida Hospital, which is operated by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

 “I have mustered up enough courage to do this,” said Tracey Zudans, with a smile.

“I’ve been really present in everything that Val has done when he was appointed by the governor. I’ve seen the process and I’ve just become really passionate about it.”

Tracey Zudans, a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in advertising and the mother of four children ages 11 to 19, grew up in Palm Beach Gardens and went to high school with Val.

In recent years, while Val Zudans was busy with his practice at Florida Eye Institute, Tracey Zudans has volunteered with We Care Foundation, the fund-raising arm for a group of 120 physicians who donate services to county residents in dire financial need.

Her interest in the governance of the hospital developed over the course of her husband’s tenure on the Hospital District Board. That board was established by the legislature in 1959 to oversee the hospital, which is taxpayer owned.

In January, the District Board formed a collaborative committee with members of the IRMC board of trustees to review the structure of the hospital in the wake of large financial losses.

A consulting firm is currently studying options that include selling or otherwise becoming part of a larger hospital chain; remaining independent but coming out from under the supervision of the District Board; allowing the District Board to run the hospital instead of leasing it to IRMH Inc., of which Jeff Susi is current CEO; or maintaining the status quo. Susi is retiring at the end of this year.

“One of my biggest reasons for applying for the Hospital District is that I feel all patients – regardless of class or income – deserve better care. The patients come first.”

Zudans says that while she shares her husband’s passion on that subject, she will act independently when district decisions have to be made.

 “I will form my own opinions, and I want to make sure our community understands what’s going on,” she said.  “I don’t want to be a surrogate for Val. I want to be an advocate for our patients.”