25 Movers and Shakers in the Hospital Industry

Here are 25 individuals who recently moved into top hospital and health system management roles.

James Benedict Jr. (President, Ahuja Medical Center, Beachwood, Ohio). Mr. Benedict, a hospital administrator with considerable experience, finds himself the new president of a hospital that hasn't opened yet. The $230.5 million Ahuja Medical Center is due to open in early 2011 and will be part of part of the University Hospitals Health System in Cleveland. Currently, Mr. Benedict is overseeing planning and development of the hospital and an adjoining physicians' office building. Replete with patient-friendly design features, Ahuja Medical Center will initially house 144 beds, with plans to grow to 600 beds. Drawing on his wide experience at all of Cleveland's major hospitals during a 20-year career, Mr. Benedict said one key lesson he has learned is that quality of care and a patient-centered approach must be paramount.

Denise Brooks-Williams (CEO, Battle Creek, Mich., Health System). A rising star at Novi, Mich.-based Trinity Health, Denise Brooks-Williams recently reached the CEO level with her appointment at Trinity's 172-bed Battle Creek (Mich.) Health System. "Denise is known and respected across Trinity Health for her ability to lead in times of change," said Nelson Karre, chair of the Battle Creek Health System board of trustees. "She has the ability to enhance the quality of patient care and to strengthen the bonds between a hospital and its community." Ms. Brooks-Williams was previously vice president of operations at Trinity's 443-bed St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac, Mich. There she was responsible for ancillary and diagnostic services and oncology program development.

Anthony J. Cimino (CEO, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton, N.J.). In his long and varied career, Mr. Cimino has been a state legislator, worked in New Jersey state government and ran his own private engineering company. Though he was only recently named CEO of the 584-bed Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton, he is no stranger to that institution, having served as chairman of the board. "The healthcare market in New Jersey is changing rapidly, with both challenges and opportunities ahead," said Stephen K. Jones, the president and CEO of Robert Wood Johnson Health Care Corp. "A strong part of the hospital's growth and healthcare strategy will be pursued through even closer relationships with the entire RWJ Health System. Mr. Cimino's familiarity and long-time relationship with both entities will be a tremendous asset in implementing that plan."

Joy Drass, MD (Executive VP, MedStar Health, Columbia, Md.).
Dr. Drass has spent most of her career moving up through administrative positions at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. A graduate of Georgetown University Medical School, she trained in critical care medicine, worked for 13 years in Georgetown's surgical intensive care unit and held a variety of clinical leadership roles in the hospital, which was acquired by MedStar Health. She eventually became president of the hospital and was recently appointed executive vice president of operations for the Washington, D.C., region of MedStar Health. It is a newly created position meant to create a regional focus for program development and operational synergy. "We are fortunate to tap talent from within our organization for this wonderful opportunity," said Kenneth A. Samet, president and CEO of MedStar Health.

Daniel L. Fink (CEO, Riley Hospital for Children, Indianapolis).
As the nation's sixth largest pediatric hospital, 249-bed Riley Hospital for Children, part of Clarian Health, is Indiana's only comprehensive children's hospital with pediatric specialists in every field of medicine and surgery. Mr. Fink, who had been COO of Riley since 2005, was recently named CEO, in time to oversee the completion of the hospital's 10-story Simon Family Tower. He was previously an executive at Cook Children's Health Care System in Fort Worth, Tex., and Methodist Hospitals of Dallas. Mr. Fink "has played a significant role in advancing Riley Hospital's national reputation," said Daniel F. Evans Jr., president and CEO of Clarian Health.

Wanona "Winnie" Fritz, RN (CEO, Carondelet Health Network, Tuscon, Ariz.).
Ms. Fritz joined Carondelet Health Network in Tucson, Ariz., after a colorful nursing career in the U.S. Army and working for King Hussein of Jordan. She was recently named president and CEO of two of its hospitals in Arizona: 402-bed St. Mary's Hospital in Tucson and 80-bed Holy Cross Hospital in Nogales, 60 miles away. "As a new CEO, you're able to bring new suggestions from a different place," said Ms. Fritz, adding that her biggest challenge will be managing her time between both hospitals. She holds a master's of science in nursing degree with an emphasis in emergency nursing and nursing administration. At the start of her career, Ms. Fritz earned pilot's wings and a Bronze Star medal in management assignments around the world in the U.S. Army. Then she was a health systems planner and dean of a nursing school for King Hussein for nearly 17 years before serving as chief nursing officer for investor-owned hospitals in Nevada, Missouri and Michigan.

Duncan P. Gallagher (CFO, Allina Hospitals & Clinics, Minneapolis). In August, Mr. Gallagher was named executive vice president and CFO of Allina Hospitals & Clinics, which owns and operates 11 hospitals and more than 90 clinics. The new CFO "provides a level of experience and leadership to the CFO position that will be critical at a time when the healthcare delivery marketplace will be dynamic and challenging," said Allina CEO and president Ken Paulus. Mr. Gallagher had been executive vice president and chief operating and financial officer of Iowa Health System, based in Des Moines. Before that, he had worked at KPMG and was a senior auditor at Peat Marwick Mitchell and Co.

Arthur Gonzalez (CEO, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis). Mr. Gonzalez recently moved 2,000 miles from California to become CEO of 465-bed Hennepin County Medical Center. With him he brought substantial experience running a public health system, having been president and CEO of Tri-City Healthcare District, a public health system in Oceanside, Calif., for 10 years. He has also served as CEO of Schumpert Health System in Shreveport, La., St. Joseph Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, and Kino Community Hospital in Tucson, Ariz. Mr. Gonzalez also served 17 years in Hospital Corporation of America. "The job of leading a major medical center is complicated and challenging during good times, but in this economy it calls for an even higher level of skill and vision, so we are fortunate to have found a leader who has his breadth and depth of experience and qualifications," said Anita Pampusch, who headed the search committee at Hennepin.

Marc W. Hungerford, MD (Medical Director, Joint Replacement, Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, Md.). Dr. Hungerford recently was named medical director of joint replacement at 285-bed Mercy Medical Center after serving as chair of the Johns Hopkins Division of Orthopedic Surgery at 330-bed Good Samaritan Hospital, also in Baltimore. "I am very pleased to join Mercy Medical Center's stellar team of orthopedic surgeons, many of whom have national and even international reputations for their work," he said. Dr. Hungerford's own expertise is in the field of avascular necrosis, a bone death caused by poor blood supply to the area that is most common in the hip, knee and shoulder.

Linda Hunt (Service Area President, Catholic Healthcare West Arizona). One of Ms. Hunt's first goals in her new role as service area president for Catholic Healthcare West Arizona is integration of the three hospitals under her purview: 209-bed Chandler Regional Medical Center in Chandler, 206-bed Mercy Gilbert Medical Center in Gilbert and 756-bed St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. Having started in July, she plans to nurture more collaborative programs and to conduct a healthcare needs assessment for the entire state. In addition, she will continue to serve as president of St. Joseph's, a position she has held for 10 years. Before joining CHW, Ms. Hunt held senior leadership positions in Provenant Health Partners and Centura Health.

Tom Jackson (CFO, Emory Eastside Medical Center, Snellville, Ga.).
Mr. Jackson, the new CFO at 188-bed Emory Eastside Medical Center, has a record of streamlining, improvement and innovation at several hospitals. Emory Eastside is affiliated with 220-hospital TriStar Health System, based in Brentwood, Tenn. Mr. Jackson previously worked at 354-bed Doctors Hospital of Augusta, home of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center, the largest burn center in the United States; HCA's 511-bed Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo.; and 650-bed Vanderbilt University Hospital. He also worked for the accounting firm of Ernst & Young.

Richard J. Liekweg (President, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis). After six years as CEO and associate vice chancellor of 549-bed University of California, San Diego Medical Center, Mr. Liekweg became president of 1,252-bed Barnes-Jewish Hospital in August. Steven H. Lipstein, president and CEO of the hospital's parent, BJC HealthCare, described him as "a talented administrator and leader who establishes strong relationships with faculty and staff and understands the special missions of academic medical centers and community hospitals." Mr. Liekweg said he will focus on enhancing the medical staff's relationship with Washington University School of Medicine and on maintaining high quality care.

Roberta Luskin-Hawk, MD (CEO, Saint Joseph Hospital, Chicago). Dr. Luskin-Hawk became CEO of Saint Joseph Hospital on Aug. 31. An infectious disease specialist, she co-founded one of Chicago's first inpatient HIV Units at Saint Joseph in 1987. She has worked at the hospital since then. She co-chaired the 2008 strategic planning steering committee, and serving as physician leader for several information systems initiatives. "Dr. Luskin-Hawk brings an excellent blend of business acumen and clinical knowledge to the table," said retiring CEO Ronald E. Struxness. "[She] has a keen understanding of the healthcare environment, particularly as it relates to quality, service, finance and impending healthcare reform."

John Lynch, MD (CMO, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis). Two key challenges for Dr. Lynch, the new vice president and chief medical officer of 1,252-bed Barnes-Jewish Hospital, will be to oversee patient safety and quality and to facilitate collaboration with Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Lynch, a critical care physician, has been leading Barnes-Jewish physicians' efforts to adapt to electronic medical record systems designed to increase efficiency and patient safety and quality. His additional duties include graduate medical education, ambulatory services and operational excellence. "I look forward to this new role where I can make an impact on care that extends far beyond my own patients," Dr. Lynch said. "Barnes-Jewish is already recognized for superior clinical care, and we are looked to as a national leader in new approaches to quality and safety."

John McCabe, MD (CEO, University Hospital, Syracuse, N.Y.).
Formerly a director of the University Hospital's emergency room, Dr. McCabe was named its new CEO in August. "John's success as a leader and his ability to articulate a vision and build successful teams to implement that vision is a chief skill of his that will benefit this institution greatly," said David R. Smith, MD, president of Upstate Medical University, which operates the hospital. Dr. McCabe takes over during a building boom, highlighted by the opening of the 108-bed East Tower, with its new 71-bed Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital, and the groundbreaking for a new cardiac care center.

John Noseworthy, MD (CEO, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.).
The transition from former Mayo President and CEO Denis Cortese, MD, to Dr. Noseworthy has been under way for well over a year and will continue until Dr. Cortese steps down in November. Dr. Noseworthy comes to the helm during challenging times for Mayo. While patient numbers were stable, Mayo's 2008 income from patient care fell by almost a third and fundraising proceeds were down. "The role of the president and CEO of Mayo Clinic is critical to this institution in uniting Mayo Clinic in its vision and strategic direction," said Jim Barksdale, chair of Mayo's board of trustees. Dr. Noseworthy, a neurologist, has been the medical director of the Mayo Clinic Department of Development, a consultant in the clinic's Department of Neurology and professor of neurology in Mayo's College of Medicine.

Randy Oostra (CEO, ProMedica Health System, Toledo, Ohio). Mr. Oostra, who was named CEO of 10-hospital ProMedica Health System in August, has big shoes to fill. During 12 years at the helm, former CEO Alan Brass helped build ProMedica's integrated healthcare delivery system, which now runs the largest HMO in northwest Ohio. But Mr. Oostra, the system's COO since 2006, shows great promise, said ProMedica Board Chairman Larry Peterson. The board "has complete confidence in Randy's ability to lead this organization into the future, to continue growing and meeting its mission," Mr. Petersons said. Before joining ProMedica in 1997, Mr. Oostra held leadership positions at St. Anthony's Health System in Alton, Ill., Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Allina Health System in Minneapolis.

John L. Nespoli (CEO, Sacred Heart HealthCare System, Allentown, Pa.).
After making his mark at Sayre, Pa.-based Guthrie Health System, Mr. Nespoli recently became CEO of Sacred Heart HealthCare System, which runs 233-bed Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown. Leo Connors, Sacred Heart's chairman of the board, said he was "very pleased to have recruited a leader of John's caliber and experience." When Mr. Nespoli was Guthrie's COO, the system won recognition by Morehead Associates, an employee opinion survey researcher, for improving work environment and employee satisfaction. He previously ran Guthrie's 366-bed Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre when it was named one of the top 100 teaching hospitals in the country by Thomson Reuters and Guthrie's 99-bed Corning (N.Y.) Hospital when it won Thomson Reuters' top 100 award for performance improvement of a small community hospital. He has also held leadership roles at the Lourdes Health System in New Jersey, the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania, and Catholic Healthcare Partners, Pennsylvania region.

David Pate, MD, JD (CEO, St. Luke's Health System, Boise, Idaho). Dr. Pate honed his leadership skills at the Texas Medical Center before transitioning into CEO duties of five-hospital St. Luke's Health System from Ed Dahlberg, who held the job for almost 25 years and plans to retire in 2010. Dr. Pate holds a rare combination of MD and lawyer's degrees. Before coming to Idaho, he was senior vice president of St. Luke's Episcopal Health System in Houston, a two-hospital system not related to the Idaho system, since 1997. And since 2006, he had added the CEO position at the Houston system's flagship facility, 915-bed St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, which is at the heart of the Texas Medical Center. The Houston system has been recognized by Fortune as among the "100 Best Companies to Work For." Two hospitals in the Boise system were Thomson Reuters Top 100 Hospitals: National Benchmarks winners.

Stephen Pennington (CEO, Gadsden, Ala., Regional Medical Center).
After successfully leading a slightly smaller hospital, Stephen G. Pennington was recently named the new CEO of 346-bed Gadsden Regional Medical Center. During Mr. Pennington's 2.5-year tenure as CEO of 220-bed Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin, N.C., the hospital improved most of its clinical performance measures, received excellent patient satisfaction scores and many physicians to its staff. Mr. Pennington, who holds a degree in industrial engineering, also served as CEO of 106-bed South Baldwin Regional Medical Center in Foley, Ala., and held administrative positions at Parkway Medical Center in Decatur, Ala., Commonwealth Health Corporate in Bowling Green, Ky., and Naples Community Healthcare System in Naples, Fla.

Kevin Sowers, RN (Duke University Hospital, Durham, N.C.). Mr. Sowers, who began his career at Duke University Hospital 24 years ago as an oncology nurse, was recently named CEO of the hospital. He previously served as COO and then interim CEO of the hospital, and was responsible for organizational initiatives to improve patient safety, patient satisfaction and clinical quality. "Kevin is a proven leader who has made valuable contributions across the operational functions of the hospital, ranging from enhanced quality and safety measures to financial management," said William J. Fulkerson Jr., MD, senior vice president for clinical affairs. He cited the new CEO's "considerable management skills, relationships and communication with clinical faculty and staff, and acute focus on always improving the patient and family experience." Mr. Sowers has lectured and written on leadership, organizational change and mentorship as well as on cancer care.

Joe D. Thomason (CEO, Centennial Medical Center, Frisco, Texas).
Having worked in management positions for Tenet Healthcare for 19 years, Mr. Thomason has an extensive background in building strong relationships with physicians, employees and communities, and creating and expanding programs and working to improve quality and processes. In July, Mr. Thomason was named CEO of Tenet's 118-bed Centennial Medical Center. In spite of the economically challenging times, Centennial recently broke ground on a $30 million expansion of its cancer center. Within Tenet, he previously served as CEO of 150-bed RHD Memorial Medical Center in Dallas, CEO of 219-bed Brownsville (Texas) Medical Center, and COO of 354-bed Sierra Medical Center in El Paso, Texas.

Gustavo Valdespino (CEO, Valley Presbyterian Hospital, Van Nuys, Calif.). Mr. Valdespino was named president and CEO of 350-bed Valley Presbyterian Hospital in August, having served as senior vice president of operations for Tenet Health Corporation's Southern California Region and the CEO of several hospitals. Mr. Valdespino is "bright, creative, passionate and charismatic, with extraordinary people skills and a history of strong relations with both physicians and hospital staff," said David Fleming, Valley Presbyterian's chairman of the board. "While we evolve to meet the changing needs of our patients, Valley Presbyterian Hospital is a locally controlled non-profit hospital, operated and governed by people who work and live in the community we serve," Mr. Valdespino said.

Debbie L. Walsh, RN (CEO, Fountain Valley, Calif., Regional Hospital & Medical Center). Having begun her career as a floor nurse, Ms. Walsh became CEO of 400-bed Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center, part of Tenet Healthcare Corp., in August. "Debbie is an energetic, visionary leader with a dedicated work ethic," said Jeffery Flocken, senior vice president of operations for Tenet's California region. Ms. Walsh was previously CEO of 275-bed USC University Hospital in Los Angeles, where she had also served as COO, chief nursing officer, associate administrator, administrative director and director of surgical services.

Maryjane A. Wurth (CEO, Illinois Hospital Association). Ms. Wurth is succeeding Ken Robbins, who since 1983 has served as president of Illinois Hospital Association, with 200 hospitals as members. Since 1998, she has served as COO of the Healthcare Association of New York State, with 500 hospital members. She began her career at HANYS in 1990 as vice president for continuing care and community health. "With national healthcare reform on the horizon and many critical issues and challenges in Illinois, I look forward to working with IHA's members and staff to continue IHA's role as a premier advocate for hospitals," Ms. Wurth said.

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