Henry Ford Health President and CEO Wright L. Lassiter III has announced that he will be leaving his role as the head of the $6.6B Detroit-based integrated health system in late July to assume the CEO role at Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health, one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the U.S.
After conversations with the board of directors and senior leadership team of Henry Ford Health, Lassiter shared the news with the organization’s 33,000 employees in a personal note yesterday.
“It has truly been one of the great honors of my life to lead the incredibly relentless, resilient, innovative, diverse, and compassionate team that is Henry Ford Health,” Lassiter wrote. “It has been said that when you need heroism at scale, when you are faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge, when others say ‘no,’ you come to Henry Ford.
“I found this to be true —‚ every day. I am incredibly proud of the transformative work we have done together in and across communities in Michigan and far beyond. I have no doubt that the influence and impact of Henry Ford will continue to grow and flourish long after my final day here.”
The Henry Ford board, led by Chair David Breen, will conduct a national search for Lassiter’s successor. Bob Riney, president, health care operations and COO of Henry Ford Health, will lead during the transition period and work with Breen and the board throughout the CEO search process.
“It has been an honor to work alongside both Wright and Bob and I am grateful for their service,” says Breen. “Wright is a visionary, innovative, and courageous leader. His contributions have well positioned Henry Ford Health for the future of serving our communities. And Bob’s 40-plus year legacy with Henry Ford has been marked by an unwavering and selfless commitment to serving patients, team, and community members. I want to thank Bob for his steadfast leadership during this transition.”
Lassiter joined Henry Ford Health in December 2014. Under his leadership, Henry Ford Health completed two successful mergers, expanding its geographic footprint, and established operations globally with the 2020 opening of partner hospitals in Saudi Arabia and India.
During Lassiter’s tenure, Henry Ford also significantly increased its quality performance, earning top honors in several publicly reported quality programs and two hospitals achieving the coveted Magnet status, the gold standard for nursing excellence.
As for financial performance, the health system also received both outlook and ratings upgrades from Moody’s and S&P services. With a major focus on collaboration, Henry Ford embarked on major partnerships with a host of organizations, from the Detroit Pistons to Michigan State University, including five new partnerships in 2021 alone.
In 2020, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Henry Ford Health became a leading advisor to city of Detroit and the state of Michigan. Henry Ford Health quickly charted the path for vaccine research and became a chosen leader for the Moderna and J&J vaccine trials. Under Lassiter’s leadership, Henry Ford Health became the official medical advisor for Michigan’s mass vaccination site and the first health system in the state to require workforce vaccination.
His accolades include multiple year recognitions as “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” by Modern Healthcare; “Top 25 Minority Healthcare Executives in U.S. Healthcare” by Modern Healthcare; “Top Blacks in U.S. Healthcare” by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions; and “20 People Who Make Healthcare Better in the U.S” by HealthLeaders Magazine.
An avid community leader and advocate, Lassiter is chair of the American Hospital Association. He also was the 2021 Chair of the Detroit Regional Chamber and has served on the boards of the Detroit Children’s Fund, LeMoyne College, Invest Detroit, Motown Museum, and Downtown Detroit Partnership.
Henry Ford Health provides a full continuum of services — from primary and preventative care, to complex and specialty care, health insurance, a full suite of home health offerings, virtual care, pharmacy, eye care, and other health care retail.
It is one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, recognized for clinical excellence in cancer care, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics and sports medicine, and multi-organ transplants. Consistently ranked among the top five NIH-funded institutions in Michigan, Henry Ford Health engages in more than 2,000 research projects annually. Equally committed to educating the next generation of health professionals, Henry Ford Health trains more than 4,000 medical students, residents, and fellows every year across 50-plus accredited programs.
Henry Ford Health is also among Michigan’s largest and most diverse employers, including nearly 6,000 physicians and researchers from the Henry Ford Medical Group, Henry Ford Physician Network, and Jackson Health Network.
The health system serves a growing number of customers across 250-plus locations throughout Michigan, including five acute care hospitals, two destination facilities for complex cancer and orthopedics and sports medicine care, and three behavioral health facilities, primary care and urgent care centers.
In addition, in February Henry Ford Health and its development partners detailed plans to spend $4.2 billion to transform the neighborhoods around Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit into a mixed-use community featuring new and renovated residences, retail offerings, medical and research facilities, industrial buildings, educational centers, added streetscapes, and parks.
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