6 ways systems find CEO successors

CEO exits are at a 21-year high. Coupled with a substantial number of executive retirements, many hospitals and health systems are looking to select their next in line. 

As weathered, tenured CEOs bow out of the industry — sometimes taking decades of experience with them — the most qualified candidate looks different to every health system. Some have temporarily put board members in charge as they search for the perfect successor. Others have passed the reins to financial or clinical leaders. 

Of the CEO retirements reported by Becker's in 2023, one succession plan stood out: seven hospitals and health systems promoted their COO to the helm. 

Here are six ways hospitals and health systems are selecting their next leader, according to our archives

A designated second-in-command

1. When Gregg Olson retired as CEO of Rochelle (Ill.) Community Hospital in March, he left the lead to Karen Tracy, RN. Ms. Tracy has served on the hospital's administrative team for two decades, working on quality improvement and risk management functions; a news release described her most recent role as "second in command" to the hospital's CEO. 

2. A similar situation unfolded in Corsicana, Texas, when Michael Ellis retired as CEO of Navarro Regional Hospital. The hospital's assistant CEO, John Manolakis, was named interim CEO. 

A board member 

1. When Steve Johnson retired as president and CEO of Rockledge, Fla.-based Health First, Kent Smith, chair of the system's board of trustees, was named interim chief exec. 

2. Atlantic City, N.J.-based AtlantiCare tapped Michael Charlton, a member of the board of trustees since 2009, to serve as interim president and CEO following Lori Herndon, BSN, RN's retirement

Clinical leadership 

1. Gary Horan retired as president and CEO of Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, N.J., part of West Orange, N.J.-based RWJBarnabas Health. He was succeeded by Nancy DiLiegro, PhD, the hospital's chief clinical officer and vice president of clinical operations and physician services. 

2. Richard Margulis retired as president and CEO of Patchogue, N.Y.-based Long Island Community Hospital. Marc Adler, MD, former chief medical officer of NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island in Mineola, N.Y., took his place. 

Financial leadership 

1. Bonner General Hospital in Sandpoint, Idaho, tapped CFO John Hennessey to succeed its retiring CEO, Sheryl Rickard. Ms. Rickard also served as CFO before assuming the helm in 2004. 

2. Brian Herwig retired as CEO of Tell City, Ind.-based Perry County Memorial Hospital, an affiliate of Evansville, Ind.-based Deaconess Health System. Jared Stimpson, formerly Deaconess' regional CFO and director of affiliated hospitals, succeeded him. 

3. When the CEO of Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, Alaska, retired — after the CFO tendered his resignation the same week —  the executive director of business development and strategy, Nathan Rumsey, was named acting CEO.

A leader familiar with the system or region 

1. Dan Grolemund, former administrator of Warren (Pa.) General Hospital, took over as CEO of Corry (Pa.) Memorial Hospital upon Barbara Nichols, RN's retirement. The two facilities are about 30 miles apart. 

2. Gary Honts retired as CEO of Indio-based JFK Memorial Hospital after 10 years in the role. Karen Faulis, MSN, CEO of Hi-Desert Medical Center in Joshua Tree, became its new CEO in addition to her current responsibilities. Both hospitals belong to Palm Springs, Calif.-based Desert Care Network, operated by Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare.

3. Jay Finnegan retired as CEO of HCA Florida St. Lucie Hospital in Port St. Lucie, Fla., part of Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare. Corey Lovelace, former COO for HCA Florida Kendall Hospital, took over with more than six years of experience in the health system. 

4. When Hank Milius retires from Muncie, Ind.-based Meridian Health Services at the end of 2023, Seth Warren will succeed him as president and CEO. Mr. Warren most recently helmed Noblesville, Ind.-based Riverview Health, about 40 miles from Meridian. 

The COO: Most likely to take the lead

1. Anthony Guaccio is retiring as president and CEO of Evanston, Ill.-based Swedish Hospital, leaving the top job to COO Jonathan Lind. 

2. Leslie Barnes retired as CEO of Pueblo-based Parkview Health System on May 31. Vice President and COO Darrin Smith succeeded her.

3. Deborah Wilson, CEO of Lawrence (Mass.) General Hospital, also retired in May. The hospital's executive vice president and COO, Robin Hynds, MSN, RN, was named interim CEO. 

4. Keith Page retired as president and CEO of Maryville, Ill.-based Anderson Healthcare in February. His successor was Mike Marshall, the health system's COO. 

5. Paul Clabuesch retired as president CEO of Harbor Beach (Mich.) Community Hospital. Jill Wehner, the hospital's COO and vice president of fiscal services, succeeded him.

6. Frank Calamari retired as president and CEO of New York City-based Calvary Hospital, leaving the top role to COO Christopher Comfort, MD. 

7. Cookeville (Tenn.) Regional Medical Center promoted COO Buffy Key to the helm after CEO Paul Korth retired.

Copyright © 2023 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars