Keith Safian

Healthcare and Business Consultant

Thomas Hales has good reason to be intrigued by Keith Safian: The 66-year-old former president and CEO of Phelps Hospital literally saved Hales’ life. The two met during Safian’s quarter-century tenure at Phelps, which he rescued from the brink of bankruptcy and kept in the black. Hales helmed one of the hospital’s banks, and, when he was repeatedly rejected for a double-lung transplant because of his age (70), he turned to Safian for help. But Safian is not a physician; in fact, he majored in electrical engineering. Despite his quiet, mild-mannered, and seemingly laid-back demeanor, Safian quietly attacked Hales’ problem as he does all challenges — with the tenacity of a proverbial dog with its bone. Safian found a world-class program that would accept Hales — just in time. “When [the surgeons] opened me up, they said, ‘Oh, God — you had about two more weeks to live,’” recalls Hales. “Keith just offered to help. He never quits on you.” That’s because, says Safian, “I’m obsessive-compulsive, and I hate the notion of just stopping working on something because you hit an obstacle.”

The Armonk resident inspires fierce loyalty among peers and subordinates alike. “He connects with and has a kind word for everybody, from CEO to custodian,” says attorney and friend Sean F.X. Dugan. A voracious reader, Safian can speak intelligently on a staggering array of disparate subjects but also loves working with his hands. “I’m a proud do-it-yourselfer,” he says. “It’s very rewarding.”

“He’s a true Renaissance man,” says Dugan, who adds the dapper Safian is not above some serious bargain hunting. “Keith is a frequent flyer at Costco, where he can get lost for hours, browsing.”

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