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Q&A: Grady Memorial Hospital's New CEO, John Haupert

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, August 12, 2011

John Haupert is used to doing a lot of listening and research. That habit will be tested as the new CEO of Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital, the city's public hospital, takes the reins in October. The erstwhile chief operating officer of Parkland Health & Hospitals in Dallas was named Monday to head a hospital that less than three years ago was mired deeply in debt and political strife.

Before predecessor Michael Young took over Grady in September 2008, the hospital's operational oversight had been turned over to a private, nonprofit corporation in the wake of several years of financial missteps, a series of failed and controversial leaders.

Young, seen as a professional "fixer," after resurrecting the public hospital in Buffalo, NY, did as advertised, and dramatically improved Grady's financial underpinnings  while  driving a culture of innovation and quality improvement. Then he moved on, by heading back home to lead Pinnacle Health in Pennsylvania.

His brash style and bold decisions put off many, and, despite his successes, like many former Grady CEOs who didn't achieve much, Young's departure was undoubtedly welcomed in certain circles.

Such is the nature of a public hospital CEO's lot. Unlike many other hospitals or even large health systems, everyone seems to have a stake, and a say, about the decisions made concerning a public hospital.

No matter what decision you make as the leader, somebody's not happy. Haupert, still quite busy as COO of Parkland, is overseeing the construction of a $1.27 billion hospital and campus, had been seen as the possible successor to longtime Parkland CEO Ron Anderson, MD, who's been at his job 30 years. Haupert's opportunity, it seems is now, and it's not at Parkland.

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