Within two days, the heads of two of the country’s best-known health systems announced their retirement.
Dr. Stephen Klasko, President of Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of Jefferson Health, and Lloyd Dean, CEO of CommonSpirit Health, will step down next year.
Klasko, who has headed the Philadelphia-based academic medical facility since 2013, will step down on December 31st. He will remain special advisor to the Jefferson Board of Trustees until the end of fiscal year 2022.
Under his leadership, Jefferson Health has grown from three hospitals to 18, with annual sales increasing from $ 1.5 billion to over $ 6.7 billion.
Klasko led the merger of Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University in 2017 and, more recently, the merger of Jefferson Health with Einstein Healthcare Network, which faced a challenge from the Federal Trade Commission but overcame it.
Although Klasko’s contract expired in 2020, there were too many plans pending for him to step down, including the FTC challenge, the upcoming acquisition of the HealthPartners Plan insurer, and the construction of the health system’s $ 800 million pavilion for special care.
“I had the feeling that if I had left then it would have been some kind of ‘great vision, but not finished yet’,” said Klasko in a telephone interview.
Now that these efforts are complete, or at least underway, Klasko believes he can take his next steps, including working with startups that are leading the health care sector into the future with health equity in mind.
“Over the past three or four years, I’ve had this great opportunity to be almost a horse whisperer between the fast and fragile moving world of Silicon Valley and the more traditional academic medical world,” he said. “[Now I want to get] more into the world of startup companies and [help] they understand what they need to do to really change healthcare. “
Looking ahead, Klasko gave some advice to hospital and health system leaders who are still weathering the Covid storm.
“If you want to lead a health system through a time of external catastrophic change, you can’t use the old playbook,” said Klasko. “Think about what other industries have done [when they] are going through a crisis. Stop relying on healthcare leaders to give you advice. “
Dean will be leaving Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health in the summer of 2022, heralding a new era for the relatively new healthcare system. CommonSpirit was founded in February 2019 through the merger of Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives. Dean, who previously served as CEO of Dignity Health for 19 years, was named head of the combined organization last July.
Since being taken over by the dean, CommonSpirit Health has partnered with Baylor College of Medicine on an academic partnership with the Morehouse School of Medicine on a $ 100 million 10-year initiative to educate clinicians more culturally competent. It also partnered with Tia, a startup focused on women’s health, and partnered with other vendors to create the data company Truveta.
“This is the perfect foundation for the next executive to build on while bringing new ideas and experiences to face challenges and opportunities,” Dean wrote in a LinkedIn post announcing his retirement.
Dean hasn’t revealed yet what his next act will entail, and instead says that his first focus will be on ending his time at CommonSpirit.
“I’m looking forward to the next chapter, but my work at CommonSpirit is still ongoing,” he wrote in the LinkedIn post. “In the months ahead, I will continue to focus on our continued integration as a single organization to achieve better results and improve the health of those we serve, especially the weak.”
Both CEOs steered their respective organizations through the upheavals caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Although they posted financial losses in 2020, the organizations rebounded that year.
Jefferson reported operating income of $ 5.9 million for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021, compared to a loss of $ 459.4 million the previous year.
Meanwhile, CommonSpirit reported operating profit of $ 998 million for the last fiscal year compared to a loss of $ 550 million for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2020.
Photo: Martin Barraud, Getty Images