Sentara Healthcare selects CEO to succeed Howard Kern

Dennis Matheis will succeed Howard Kern as Sentara Healthcare's president and CEO, the Norfolk, Va.-based health system announced June 24. Mr. Matheis will assume the role Sept. 1. 

Mr. Kern, who has more than 40 years of executive management experience, has led Sentara Healthcare since 2016. He announced his retirement in February. 

"I am fortunate to have worked with many truly exceptional leaders, but what has really set Sentara apart from other excellent organizations has been the way these leaders have come together as a team, with a unified purpose, to accomplish extraordinary things," Mr. Kern said in a Feb. 3 news release. "That said, Sentara is entering a new era in healthcare, and I believe the time for new leadership is now."  

Under Mr. Kern's leadership, Sentara Healthcare has grown to become the largest health system in Virginia, with annual net revenues exceeding $10 billion. 

"Howard Kern was a remarkable CEO, who focused first and foremost on patient safety and quality," said Scott Becker, publisher of Becker's Healthcare. "He is a great CEO." 

Mr. Kern has been named a leading healthcare executive by several publications, including Becker's Hospital Review and Forbes. He is a nationally-recognized expert on healthcare leadership topics.

Mr. Matheis, who has served as president of Sentara Health Plans and an executive vice president at Sentara Healthcare since 2018, has 30 years of healthcare leadership experience. Before joining Sentara, he served as senior vice president of Anthem and as president of Anthem's central region and exchanges. 

As Sentara Healthcare's new CEO, Mr. Matheis will lead implementation of the nonprofit system's strategic priorities and build upon the strong foundation established during Mr. Kern's tenure. 

"I am humbled and excited by the opportunity to serve this great organization as its next president and CEO," Mr. Matheis said in a June 24 news release. "The depth of talent and experience of our leaders and team members throughout Sentara is extraordinary. Witnessing firsthand the sacrifice and dedication exhibited by physicians, nurses and all team members in our hospitals and clinics throughout the pandemic was truly inspiring and I look forward to working more closely with them."

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