On a recent family vacation, he realized retirement sounded good.

CANTON  Thomas E. Cecconi was too busy working to give serious thought to retirement.

But when he turned 65 years old a year ago, more and more people began asking, "When are you going to retire?" The president and chief executive of Mercy Medical Center began to ponder a life without worries of how impending decisions by state and federal legislators may affect the hospital; the state and future of Medicaid and Medicare; and medical staff issues to handle.

On a recent family vacation, he realized retirement sounded good.

"Walking on the beach ... playing with grandchildren," he said.

After more than 14 years at the helm of Mercy, Cecconi has decided to retire, effective at the end of the year. He'll remain chief executive until Aug. 1, then move into a role as chief executive emeritus to assist in leadership transition at the 476-bed hospital and its outpatient centers, all of which are part of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

Cecconi, who was born at Mercy when it was located at Market Avenue and Eighth Street, has spent his entire career in health care administration.

Prior to coming to Mercy, he was president and chief executive at Doctors Hospital in Perry Township from 1991 to 2002. Cecconi began his career at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in 1973, followed by a stint with Hospital Management Professionals, of Brentwood, Tenn., which placed him into a variety of roles at hospitals in Minnesota, Illinois and North Carolina.

During his tenure in Stark County, Cecconi has served on a variety of community boards of directors, including the Stark Development Board, Walsh University and the Canton Regional and Massillon Area chambers of commerce.

"He is an all-around great guy ... and has always been supportive of our regional collaboration efforts," said Sarah Metzger, executive director of the Akron Regional Hospital Association, where Cecconi has been a board member since 2003 and is a past chairman.

During the change at Mercy, A. David Jimenez, chief performance officer at the Sisters of Charity, will provide part-time operational oversight. The search for an interim chief executive is already underway -- Sisters of Charity President Tom Strauss and boards of Mercy and the Sisters will also begin looking for a permanent replacement.

During his tenure at Mercy, Cecconi headed many building projects, including: A new intensive care unit and parking deck; a renovation and expansion of the emergency department and new and expanded outpatient centers.

The nuts and bolts operation of Mercy, a Catholic hospital, is the same as any other hospital, Cecconi said. However, he added the mission there emphasizes serving the poor, treating patients with kindness and respect, and bringing a spiritual component to work.

"Most meetings here begin with a prayer ... we talk about 'how would Jesus of God want us to look at or solve a problem,'" Cecconi said.

Reach Tim at 330-580-8333 or 
tim.botos@cantonrep.com.
On Twitter: @tbotosREP