Skip to main content

5 Healthcare Execs Who Led Innovation in 2021

Analysis  |  By Melanie Blackman  
   December 08, 2021

Don't miss these interviews with notable executives who led innovation while taking on new C-suite roles this past year.

Changing organizations or roles can be a big step in typical circumstances, but add a worldwide pandemic, and it can make it an even harder challenge.

It can also bring greater opportunities for executives to lead innovation and change while leading in those new roles.

Over the year, HealthLeaders spoke with healthcare executives who took on new roles and led innovation while the pandemic still raged on across the country. Here are five who decided to take the leap and how they've already made a difference in their roles.

Sanford Health's New CEO Bill Gassen on Emerging from Turbulence

Like many hospitals and health systems, Sanford Health faced significant clinical and financial upheaval related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, longtime CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft resigned, ending a more than two-decade tenure at the integrated, nonprofit health system based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Weeks after Krabbenhoft’s resignation, Sanford and Intermountain Healthcare suspended an $11 billion plan to merge.

Bill Gassen, who worked for Sanford for over nine years in leadership roles including vice president of human resources integration and corporate services, chief human resources officer, and most recently chief administrative officer, assumed the position of CEO and immediately took charge of the organization.

In this article, Gassen shares what it was like being elevated during the pandemic, how the pandemic altered the organization's focus on growth strategies, and why the organization is poised to transform rural healthcare delivery.

Cottage Hospital CEO on Her First 90 Days

Holly McCormack, MSN, has worked at Cottage Hospital, a Level IV trauma center and 35-bed critical access hospital, based in Woodsville, New Hampshire, for more than a decade and has worked in healthcare for more than two decades.

Following the resignation of the former rural hospital CEO Maria Ryan earlier this year, McCormack was chosen to serve as interim CEO, and then permanently installed as CEO in April.

In this article, McCormack shares how the previous CEO set her up for success, how her background as a nurse helps her lead, and what she hopes to accomplish in her new leadership position.

Inspira Health Network COO Shares Community Strategies

Warren E. Moore, FACHE, joined Inspira Health Network as executive vice president and COO this past July. A healthcare veteran with more than 25 years of healthcare experience, he brings high reliability and quality care experience to his new role.

In his role as COO, Moore will lead the New Jersey-based health system's strategic growth strategy, and oversee the hospitals, health centers, and outpatient services operations, under the leadership of president and CEO Amy Mansue.

In this article, Moore speaks about his strong focus on community, his experience settling into his new role, and future strategies he's looking forward to implementing to help workers in the organization and the patients they serve.

From Student Nurse Aid to CEO at The Christ Hospital Health Network

For the past 34 years, Deborah Hayes, RN, MS, MSN, MBI, MBA, NEA, BChas, worked at The Christ Hospital Health Network, where she has climbed the ranks from a student nurse aid in 1987 to leading the Cincinnati-based health system in May 2021.

Over the years, The Christ Hospital has received numerous accolades during Hayes' tenure as a leader, including recognition for being one of the top 50 hospitals in the country and being in the top 95th percentile in patient experience.

In this article, Hayes shares her career journey, the health system's strong culture, and offers an inside look at the hospital's COVID-19 response.

Broward Health CEO: 'We Want to be as Innovative as Possible'

Shane Strum joined Broward Health in March 2021, taking over as CEO of the Fort Lauderdale-based health system during the coronavirus pandemic. During his first seven months, he would have to juggle the Delta variant, staffing shortages, vaccine and mask mandates, and so much more.

His leadership appointment followed several years of abrupt resignations and C-suite turmoil for the organization. Gino Santorio, who previously served as CEO, announced his resignation in November 2020, kicking off the executive search that landed Strum back into the healthcare sector after working in public service, most recently serving as chief of staff for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

In this article, Strum shares how his experience in public service shapes how he appreciates healthcare, what his first seven months as CEO have looked like, current pain points, and what 2022 holds for the health system.

Melanie Blackman is the strategy editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.


Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.