Denver Health CEO resigns amid major health system initiatives, physician exodus

Arthur Gonzalez, CEO of Denver Health said Wednesday he will step down from his post June 30, according to the Denver Business Journal. Mr. Gonzalez's departure comes amid several major health system initiatives, such as the implementation of a $175 million Epic EHR, and follows the resignation of several leaders and physicians.

In a news release announcing his resignation, Rus Heise, chairman of the Denver Health and Hospital Authority board of directors, commended Mr. Gonzalez, saying he arrived at the system during a period of tremendous change and will leave the health system "stronger and better than it was when he arrived," according to the report.

Mr. Gonzalez has served as CEO since September 2012. He said his decision to resign was personal and was not in response to any pressure from the board, according to the report.

However, he's had a fair share of issues to reconcile, such as an exodus of several clinicians and leaders, including three of the system's five neurosurgeons, the head of emergency medicine, a top trauma surgeon, the CMO and the chief of surgery. Last year, physicians at the head of the departments of medicine and surgery left the hospital and their positions remain vacant. Additionally, the chiefs of ophthalmology and oral surgery resigned in 2015, along with six hospitalists, according to the Denver Post.

The hospital will see more changes in the coming months. On April 18, Denver Health will open a $27 million, 4,500-square-foot clinic in southwest Denver, an underserved area of the city. The new clinic will be the first of the system's nine clinics to offer urgent care, primary care and specialty services. It will also have dentistry, pharmacy, optometry and other services available, according to the report.

Also in April, Denver Health is scheduled to go live on its new Epic EHR. Former CIO Gregory Veltri, who served in the role for nearly 16 years, resigned from the health system in October 2013 due to a disagreement regarding the switch to Epic's EHR. He was concerned the implementation's costs could reach $300 million. However, in January Mr. Gonzalez said the implementation is under budget at $170 million, though he did not disclose its overall projected cost.

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