Best Healthcare Leaders Know When to Exit

Philip Betbeze, May 18, 2012

With 40 years of tenure, including 20 as the CEO, Patricia Gabow, chief architect of the model of safety net care that Denver Health has become, could stay on in that role pretty much as long as she wants.

Instead, she's pulling down the curtain on her reign, effective this October. She'll be replaced—everyone is replaceable—but her legacy will live on. Not that she cares, by the way.

When Gabow's son heard she had been named CEO of Denver Health 20 years ago, the then-teenager, who his mother says is the family comedian, asked her a serious question.

"'Mom, why are you taking a job for which you have no training?'" Gabow recalls him asking, chuckling. "That was a reality check, and I've had lots of those over the years," she says. "But I found that being a practicing physician and a researcher was extremely good preparation for this role."

She may not have had any training, but as a longtime leader of the city's safety net health system, she now has the experience, and the accolades. And she's giving it all up.

Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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