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John Couris and Jupiter Medical Center are synonymous. The president and CEO of the award-winning regional hospital is six-and-a-half years into the demanding position and loving every minute of it.
A huge harpoon hangs above the credenza in his executive office. It commands the room. When asked why the president and CEO of Jupiter Medical Center would have such a curious contraption on a workplace wall, the man whose name follows both titles answers, “A recruiter gave it to me.”
John Couris received the symbolic spear in 2010 after leaving Morton Plant North Bay Hospital in Tampa to take the top spot at the 327-bed institution in Palm Beach County.
“It came with a note,” Couris says of the gag gift. “It said, ‘Congratulations on harpooning the big one.’”
He has since helmed Jupiter Medical Center for six-and-a-half years and never looked back.
“I’m doing exactly what I set out to do, literally,” Couris says. “I love coming to work.”
The New England native with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Boston University began his career at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“I was an orderly in a nursing home,” Couris says. “That was my first job in health care.”
While earning a master’s degree in management from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he quickly moved up the ranks, eventually landing the position of director of radiology.
“It was an awesome 10 years,” Couris says. “But I wanted more.”
A headhunting agency for the BayCare Health System, of which Morton Plant North Bay Hospital is a part, tapped the then-32-year-old for a second-in-command post. He came in as vice president of imaging, and within one year he became vice president of ambulatory care.
“It was bittersweet,” Couris says of leaving his Northern roots. “But I had a chance to be a vice president of a major hospital.”
Another decade passed of pursuing his passion on the west coast of the state before Jupiter Medical Center came calling. He remembers when he and his wife, Dianne Couris, visited the area: “We absolutely fell in love with the place.”
As president and CEO, Couris oversees 2,000 employees and all departments, among them cancer services, thoracic and lung care, and obstetrics and pediatrics. He is also in charge of the hospital’s outpatient units, which include the Joe Namath Neurological Research Center and Margaret W. Niedland Breast Center. The Jupiter Medical Center Foundation, currently tasked with raising funds for a $300 million capital campaign, falls under his purview, as well.
Couris also finds time to give back to the community by working with organizations including the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce, Loggerhead Marinelife Center and The Honda Classic. Additionally, he is active in many national professional health associations.
He describes his profession as a craft that he constantly tries to refine and says it is not for everyone. The demand that comes from dealing with patient emergencies on one side of the business and federal regulations on the other, coupled with all-too-common night and weekend hours, make spending time with his son Ben, 18, and daughter Isabelle, 15, difficult.
“This is not a job,” Couris says. “This is an extension of who you are. It affects your whole family.”
He finds ways to fulfill his role as a father; for example, he drives Isabelle to school every morning and has breakfast with her at Dunkin’ Donuts. He credits Dianne Couris, a parenting coach who works out of their Jupiter Farms home, with enabling him to fulfill his role with the hospital.
“I am 100-percent committed to this institution,” Couris says. “I’m here for the long haul.”