New year, new CEO for many hospitals and health systems

Hospitals and health systems across the U.S. will enter 2024 without the same CEO who led them for years.

Dozens of CEOs have announced retirement plans this year, including at least 10 since August. Some have already retired, while others will retire in 2024. The length of their tenures vary, and some have been at the helm for a decade or more. 

For example, Peggy Troy, MSN, RN, plans to retire as president and CEO of Milwaukee-based Children's Wisconsin by the end of December 2024. Ms. Troy has helmed Children's Wisconsin since 2009, when she became the first female president and CEO of the pediatric health system. Additionally, Mark Keroack, MD, will retire as CEO of Springfield, Mass.-based Baystate Health in July 2024 after a decade in the role. And one of California's longest-serving hospital CEOs, Craig Leach, retired as CEO of Torrance (Calif.) Memorial Medical Center on Oct. 31 after 17 years at the helm.

These are only a few examples, and CEO retirements are to be expected post-pandemic. The most recent report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an executive outplacement firm that tracks turnover month to month, shows another 318 CEOs retired this year across industries through September, or 22% of all exits, down slightly from the 24% of CEOs who retired during the same period last year. 

Still, a study conducted by Equilar showed that "forever CEOs" are becoming more rare. The study found that the median tenure length for S&P 500 CEOs was six years in 2013. By 2022, it was 4.8 years — a 20 percent decrease, according to an Aug. 3 post from Joyce Chen, an associate editor at Equilar, on the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance. Average CEO tenure length also decreased during this time period, from 7.6 years in 2013 to 7.2 years in 2022. 

Hospitals and health systems will also lose CEOs who have guided their organizations through an evolving healthcare landscape, before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. This happened also in 2021, when CEOs of several of the nation's largest or most prominent health systems announced plans to retire. Across the workforce as a whole, analysts predicted that retired workers would return as the threats from COVID-19 faded, but recent estimates indicate that people who retired are staying retired. 

However, the turnover among CEOs opens a new avenue for retired executives who want to keep a toe in the industry: interim leadership. Chris Howard, president and CEO of San Diego-based Sharp HealthCare, told Becker's in October, "The challenges of our industry and the opportunities that are present in our industry, I believe, are creating opportunities for individuals to either accept greater responsibility elsewhere or simply decide in some cases that their time as leaders has come to an end, and that it's time to either take on interim roles and enjoy more time with their family or retire for good."


Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars