OHSU Health CEO to exit amid Legacy Health merger talks

Oregon Health & Science University said it will search for a new CEO of its healthcare operations as OHSU and Legacy Health work through the due diligence phase of combining.

The health systems, both based in Portland, are still working on finalizing a merger agreement. In August, the entities announced they had signed a nonbinding letter of intent with plans to create a 10-hospital system of more than 32,000 employees. The combined system would be the largest Portland metro area employer.

Amid the anticipated merger, John Hunter, MD, who has served as executive vice president and CEO of OHSU Health since 2017, will step down from his role.

"We have engaged Nexus Search Partners, a leading executive search firm, to expeditiously identify candidates with experience in integrating health systems and improving financial performance," Danny Jacobs, MD, OHSU president, said in a statement shared with Becker's

Dr. Jacobs said Dr. Hunter will continue as OHSU Health CEO until June 30, or at least until a new health system CEO is hired. He will continue to serve as a tenured faculty member with patient care responsibilities in the university medical school's surgery department. 

Brooke Baldwin, DNP, OHSU chief nursing executive, and Donn Spight, MD, OHSU vice president of health equity, will co-chair the search committee for the next CEO of OHSU Health.

"Dr. Hunter led the OHSU health care mission through the pandemic with compassion and a people-first focus. We are grateful for his leadership and service as we transition to the next phase of developing a seamless, comprehensive health system for the people of Oregon, the Pacific Northwest and beyond," Dr. Jacobs said.

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