10 notable CEO transitions this year

Becker's Hospital Review reported on more than 300 CEO transitions at several academic medical centers, for-profit hospital operators, nonprofit hospitals and public health systems in 2020. 

Some of those moves were memorable due to their abruptness. Others stood out because they bookended decades-long careers, or involved power changes at hospitals and health systems in some of the largest U.S. cities.

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

1.  Longtime Boston Children's leader Sandra Fenwick said this year that she is retiring in March 2021. Under Ms. Fenwick's leadership, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Boston Children's as the nation's top pediatric hospital. Boston Children's Hospital tapped Kevin Churchwell, MD, as its next CEO. Dr. Churchwell currently serves as president and COO of the hospital.

2. Wayne Smith, who has led Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems as CEO for more than 20 years, will step away from his role Jan. 1 to become executive chair of the board. CHS intends to name current President and COO Tim Hingtgen as CEO. The move comes as two other national hospital operators — Quorum Health and Universal Health Services — also saw their chiefs step down in the months before Mr. Smith.

3. Joey Jacobs stepped down as CEO of Brentwood, Tenn.-based Quorum Health in September. He left after only two months on the job. He was named CEO just as Quorum was emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Dan Slipkovich, who sits on Quorum's board, was named interim CEO. 

4. Days after Quorum announced a transition of leadership, Alan Miller, founder, chair and CEO of Universal Health Services, said he was stepping down as CEO of the King of Prussia, Pa.-based company at the start of 2021. Mr. Miller founded UHS 41 years ago. At the time, the company had six employees, but it has since grown to about 90,000 employees. The company operates about 400 facilities in 37 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom. Marc Miller, president of UHS, will take over the CEO role.

5. Karen Olscamp, president and CEO of the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie, will retire in January after 12 years of leading the medical center. During Ms. Olscamp's tenure, the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington expanded obstetrics, behavioral health, cancer, critical care and surgery programs, among other accomplishments, the medical center said. She has been with the system for 34 years, beginning as an administrative resident in 1987.

6. Israel Rocha Jr., the CEO of two hospitals in New York City's public health system, was approved as the next CEO of Cook County Health in Chicago. Mr. Rocha's transition from New York City's public health system to Chicago's comes as Cook County Health is facing financial challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It's a hot seat: Cook County Health's previous CEO, John Jay Shannon, was voted out of his role in November 2019 to address several major challenges, including a ballooning charity care budget.

7. Detroit Medical Center named Karima Bentounsi CEO of its adult central campus hospitals, effective Aug. 10. Her role includes oversight of DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital, DMC Harper University Hospital, DMC Heart Hospital and DMC Hutzel Women's Hospital. Ms. Bentounsi first joined DMC in 2017 as president and CEO of DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, where her leadership helped the hospital attain an "A" grade from Leapfrog.

8. Kelby Krabbenhoft is no longer president and CEO of Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health. The development comes after 24 years of Mr. Krabbenhoft's leadership in the top position of the 46-hospital system and days after he wrote an email to 50,000 employees explaining his stance on face coverings amid the most severe COVID-19 surge in the U.S. to date. His abrupt exit led Sanford to indefinitely suspended discussions about a planned merger with Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Health.

9. In July, Lloyd Dean became the sole CEO of Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health. Kevin Lofton, co-CEO of the Chicago-based health system, officially retired June 30. CommonSpirit said its dual-CEO model was a transitional one to better integrate the two systems and was not intended to be permanent. Several other health systems — including Milwaukee and Downers Grove, Ill.-based Advocate Aurora Health and Greenville, S.C.-based Prisma Health — have ditched the dual-CEO model in recent years. 

10. Navicent Health President and CEO Ninfa Saunders, MSN, retired from the Macon, Ga.-based system this year. She helmed Navicent, one of Georgia's largest health systems, since 2012. During her tenure, Dr. Saunders played a key role in mergers with smaller Central Georgia hospitals and a partnership with the Charlotte, N.C.-based Atrium Health.

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