Sheldon Retchin, M.D., H’79, first arrived on the MCV Campus in 1976 as a trainee. This month he departs, having risen to the posts of Senior VP for Health Sciences and CEO of the VCU Health System.
He is headed to Ohio State University where he’ll lead its Wexner Medical Center, and they’re fortunate to get him.
His leadership was one of the reasons I chose to come to Richmond in 2005, and I’m grateful to have had the chance to work closely with him over these past nine years. That experience has shaped my life, in professional, personal and lasting ways.
His energy and vision has transformed our campus. He’s overseen about a half-billion dollars in new construction in the last decade alone. He’s led a hospital, a physician practice plan and a Medicaid HMO that’s won acclaim as one of the few cost-effective programs for caring for an inner city, uninsured population.
That same concern for patients birthed his goal for us to become America’s safest health system. He’s seen us on our way to achieving that: our progress was honored last year with the AHA–McKesson Quest for Quality Prize.
Those initiatives have created a great training environment for the more than 4,500 students enrolled in VCU’s health science schools. The students have a true respect and affection for him. That was in evidence last year when the medical school’s graduating class of 2014 asked him to be its convocation speaker. Dr. Retchin responded with the unforgettable story of Otis, a blues-playing toll-booth attendant who became his friend and eventual patient. In Otis’ memory, Dr. Retchin himself pulled out a harmonica to deliver his own blues riff.
I will always admire the humor, enthusiasm, dedication and, yes, musicality that he brought to his responsibilities. Our campus carries his indelible mark. He deserves to be proud of the work he’s done. And I am grateful to call him my friend.
Jerome F. Strauss, III, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System