Ascension Wisconsin restructures exec team

Ascension is restructuring the leadership team for its Wisconsin market and parting ways with several top leaders, the St. Louis-based system said March 21.

Bernie Sherry, senior vice president of Ascension's Wisconsin market, will leave his role later this spring. The health system is currently conducting a search for his replacement.

Four other leaders are also exiting Ascension Wisconsin:

  • Monica Hilt, chief operating officer
  • Marcia Lysaght, DNP, RN, chief nursing officer
  • Beth O'Laire, market chief human resources executive
  • Caryn Kaufman, director of communications

According to a memo to staff members obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the four leaders will leave their positions this week. 

Ascension has also split leadership responsibilities at Columbia St. Mary's Hospital's campuses in Milwaukee and Mequon, Wis. The hospitals will now have separate CEOs "to best enable greater operational and clinical focus at two critical sites of care," the system said.

John Joyce will remain the president of Ascension Columbia St. Mary's Hospital in Mequon, while Daniel Jackson was named interim president and CEO of the Milwaukee campus. Mr. Jackson most recently served as CEO of Detroit Medical Center's Sinai-Grace Hospital. 

Ascension also named Duke Walker as interim COO of the Milwaukee campus. Mr. Walker comes to the hospital from Lafayette, La.-based Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, where he served as vice president of operations. 

A search is still underway for the hospital's new chief nursing officer. Marlly Cadavid, PhD, RN, remains the CNO of Ascension Columbia St. Mary's Hospital in Mequon. 

The restructuring comes after investigative reports from the Journal Sentinel and Milwaukee Magazine alleged that staffing issues have significantly disrupted care at the Milwaukee campus, leading to delayed surgeries, long wait times and unattended patients. 

State health officials investigated Columbia St. Mary's in October 2022 and cited the hospital for not having enough staff members to properly care for four patients whose cases were reviewed. In August, the hospital was also at risk of losing its accreditation through The Joint Commission, though it has since been reaccredited. 

Ascension said the restructuring will "concentrate leadership resources at the facility-level, within key sites of care, to enable increased focus on clinical quality, appropriate staffing, and support of caregivers and associates.

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