Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard J. Tyson dies

Bernard J. Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, died in his sleep early Sunday, the health system confirmed. He was 60.

The cause of death has not been determined. 

Mr. Tyson devoted 34 years of his career to the Oakland, Calif.-based health system, becoming its first black CEO in 2013 and chairman in 2014. He was an advocate for accessible healthcare, diversity and reducing health inequities. 

In the past year and a half, Kaiser Permanente invested $200 million in programs to prevent and reduce homelessness and address affordable housing and another $2 million toward gun violence research. It struck a partnership with Atlanta-based Emory Healthcare to reduce healthcare disparities in Georgia, pledged to go carbon neutral by 2020 and launched an initiative in California to increase access to affordable, healthy food that it planned to expand to other states.

Executive Vice President and Group President Greg Adams will serve as Kaiser Permanente's interim CEO and chairman, according to NBC News

The healthcare and business communities expressed shock and sadness. 

"Rest In Peace @BernardJTyson," tweeted Intermountain Healthcare President and CEO Marc Harrison, MD. "You were fearless in your quest for health equity. I admire you greatly."

"What a dreadful loss American healthcare has suffered with the passing of Bernard Tyson," tweeted Don Berwick, MD, president emeritus and senior fellow with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and former CMS administrator under President Barack Obama. "We had no leader more committed, courageous and long-sighted. I will deeply miss his example and his friendship." 

"Bernard Tyson was a once-in-a-generation inspirational leader," said Becker's Healthcare Publisher Scott Becker. "This is an awful loss for our country."   

"Bernard led an organization that most health systems seek to emulate," said Rhoda Weiss, PhD, national healthcare consultant and speaker. "He was a great innovator and pioneer of better health for Kaiser Permanente staff, members and communities. His vision was critical in creating the 'Thrive' motto that has remained as relevant today as when it was first imagined well over a decade ago."

"A light unto this world has gone out," tweeted Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. "Bernard Tyson our loving friend & board member has passed away. He always did so much for others & the world. One of the world’s greatest CEOs."

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