'Streamlining' efforts reach the CEO

Health systems are increasingly focused on their regional structures, reorganizing leadership to provide oversight most effectively. On Oct. 23, those changes hit the corner office. 

Providence is phasing out the CEO role at two of its California hospitals, the Renton, Wash.-based system confirmed to Becker's. One year ago, Providence's Northern and Southern California regions came together to create a sole South Division. Now, a single chief executive — Garry Olney, DNP, RN — will oversee operations in the Northern California service area, replacing the CEOs of Napa-based Queen of the Valley Medical Center and Santa Rosa (Calif.) Memorial Hospital. 

"This was part of a systemwide restructuring to streamline executive roles so we could preserve more resources for front-line caregivers and become nimbler and more responsive to the times," the system said in a statement. 

Providence isn't alone in its desire to streamline leadership. Corewell Health East — part of Corewell Health, which has dual headquarters in Grand Rapids and Southfield, Mich. — made seven executive changes within the region, the system confirmed to Becker's on Oct. 23. The senior vice president of medical group operations was let go, along with two hospital presidents. The region's COO of acute and post-acute care, Nancy Susick, RN, will take over one hospital in addition to her current duties; the second hospital will be overseen in a dual capacity by Derk Pronger, who already helms another hospital in the region. 

The word "streamline" was also used by Chicago-based CommonSpirit, which recently shared plans to lighten its regional load. 

"We are also making further changes to streamline the organization, including the consolidation of our operating divisions into five regions from eight, clearly define our market-based focus and strategies and continue to refine our operating model," CFO Dan Morissette said on an Oct. 12 investor call. 

Regional revamps don't always lead to cuts or "consolidation." In some cases, they lead to the creation of new roles. Atlanta-based Emory Healthcare recently split its 10 hospitals into two divisions — one for regional hospitals, one for university hospitals — and tapped a president to helm each. Plus, Tampa (Fla.) General Hospital named eight new executives in a C-suite overhaul following the adoption of three Bravera Health hospitals into TGH North. 

If the healthcare leaders plan to confront looming challenges, they need to be comfortable with "innovating and disrupting [themselves]," John Couris, president and CEO of Tampa General, told Becker's.

"The way I would describe this is the last five years was all about foundational work," Mr. Couris said. "The next five years and beyond is all about transformational work. So we're shifting from the foundational activity to the transformational activity, and we need an organizational structure and a leadership team that reflects that journey. That's why we made the changes." 

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