10 notable CEO transitions this year

Becker's Hospital Review reported on CEO transitions at hospitals and health systems across the U.S. in 2023. 

While some stood out as resignations and appointments at prominent health systems, others also reverberated. 

Here are 10 of this year's hospital and health system CEO moves that captured the attention of Becker's readers. 

Note: This list includes transitions that have been among the most popular with readers in terms of page views and is not exhaustive.

1. Brian Kirk was released as CEO of Norton (Kan.) County Hospital after being put on administrative leave and later reinstated. The hospital's board of trustees made a motion to fire him in May. The decision came months after Mr. Kirk was placed on administrative leave Dec. 15, 2022, after the board indicated it wanted to conduct an internal investigation. The hospital did not specify the purpose of the investigation, though Mr. Kirk was questioned about working conditions and treatment of employees during a town hall meeting. He was reinstated Jan. 4. The hospital's website lists Kevin Faughnder as the current CEO.

2. Scott Phillips, the acting CEO of El Centro (Calif.) Regional Medical Center, and Derek Pierce, the acting CFO of the hospital, resigned from their positions after the hospital's board accepted a termination notice from its management company. The hospital was being managed by Nashville, Tenn.-based consulting firm Healthcare Management Partners, and both men, managing directors at the firm, were installed by the city of El Centro in November 2022. Healthcare Management Partners tendered a termination notice to the hospital's board of trustees Jan. 14. The hospital's website lists Pablo Velez, PhD, RN, as the current CEO and David Momberg as the current CFO.

3. Cory Everett resigned as COO of Maryville, Tenn.-based Blount Memorial Hospital, effective Dec. 12. As of Dec. 1, there was no interim or replacement COO. The hospital confirmed the exit of Mr. Everett days after CEO Harold Naramore, MD, submitted his resignation. Dr. Naramore, who was named CEO of Blount Memorial on June 9, 2022, after serving as the hospital's chief medical officer for more than 12 years, will resign, effective Jan. 1. Jonathan Smith, the hospital's CFO, was selected as interim CEO, according to The Daily Times. The resignations of both executives come amid a tumultuous year and a half for the hospital, including disputes between hospital leaders and Blount County government over the CEO appointment process, hospital assets and property. 

4. Jeremy Ensey resigned as CEO of St. Luke Hospital and Living Center in Marion, Kan., during a board meeting in May. "It's been tiring. So [my wife] and I have talked about it, especially the last six months if I was going to do something else. I don't know what that something else is. All I know is healthcare. All I know, my adult life anyway, is healthcare. But I just felt God leading me a different direction," Mr. Ensey said at the time. He remained in the CEO role through late July. The hospital's website lists Alex Haines as the current leader at the helm.

5. The board of trustees of New York City-based One Brooklyn Health voted to remove CEO LaRay Brown. The vote to remove Ms. Brown led healthcare union members to protest in September, urging the board and state and local leaders to commit to transparency and continued investment in the health system. One Brooklyn Health's board voted to appoint Sandra Scott, MD, as interim CEO on Nov. 17. Dr. Scott will begin the role in January while the board of the safety-net hospital system conducts a national search for a permanent CEO.

6. Israel Rocha, CEO of Chicago-based Cook County Health, left his role Dec. 1 after  assuming the helm of the nation's third-largest public health system in December 2020. Mr. Rocha accepted a new position as president of Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente's Mid-Atlantic states region, which provides care and coverage for more than 835,000 members in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Mr. Rocha began his new role Dec. 4. 

7. Pete Delgado, president and CEO of Salinas (Calif.) Valley Health, announced his resignation to employees Oct. 9. "The realization that there is never a 'perfect' time to step away from a role I love has weighed heavily on my decision," Mr. Delgado wrote at the time. "Yet, I am confident that change, while challenging, is an opportunity for growth and renewal for both the organization and myself." Mr. Delgado led the organization, formerly known as Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System, since 2013. The organization's website lists Allen Radner, MD, as the current interim president and CEO.

8. West Des Moines, Iowa-based UnityPoint Health announced a new CEO on the same day it publicly called off a planned merger with Albuquerque, N.M.-based Presbyterian Health Services. The two health systems canceled the $11 billion transaction Oct. 11 without providing an official reason. As a result of the decision, UnityPoint Health CEO Clay Holderman departed the system to "explore other professional opportunities," according to a news release from the organization. Scott Kizer, UnityPoint's former chief legal officer, was promoted to the helm.

9. Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health named CEOs to lead the five Utah hospitals the system acquired from Dallas-based Steward Health Care in May. The hospitals are now among the 20 hospitals and 240 physician practices and clinics that make up CommonSpirit's Colorado/Kansas/Utah Division upon the dissolution of the Centura Health joint venture between CommonSpirit and Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based AdventHealth. The new CEOs for each organization are: Kevin Jenkins, Market CEO in Utah and CEO of Holy Cross Hospital-Salt Lake in Salt Lake City; Michael Jensen, CEO of Holy Cross Hospital-Davis in Layton; Christine McSweeney, CEO of Holy Cross Hospital-Jordan Valley in West Jordan; Angie Simonson, CEO of Holy Cross Hospital-Jordan Valley West in West Valley City; and Chris Stines, CEO of Holy Cross Hospital-Mountain Point in Lehi.

10. Brendan Carr, MD, will be the next CEO of New York City-based Mount Sinai Health System. Dr. Carr will succeed Kenneth Davis, MD, who will become executive vice chair of the Mount Sinai boards of trustees, according to a Nov. 21 system news release. Drs. Carr and Davis will assume their new roles early next year. Dr. Carr has served as head of emergency medicine at Mount Sinai since February 2020. He is also the Mount Sinai Professor in Emergency Medicine at Icahn Mount Sinai and chair of emergency medicine for the Mount Sinai Health System. Dr. Davis has been CEO of the health system and its predecessor since 2003.

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