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Analysis

Nemours Foundation Board Turns to Experienced Pros

By Philip Betbeze  
   February 02, 2017

Long populated by dedicated civic leaders, hospital and health system boards such as the one at the Nemours Foundation are reaching out to healthcare leaders with much-needed industry expertise.

A board's mission is to ensure that the organization thrives. What if the best way to achieve that goal requires the board to reconstitute itself?

That's no easy task, because the people who must make the changes could see their own roles diminished or eliminated.

More than ever, health system boards are seeking out members with broad healthcare expertise at the highest level. But recruiting and installing that talent often requires other board members to relinquish power and influence.

Many nonprofit healthcare boards, even at the biggest systems, are community-based, and peopled by dedicated civic leaders. Despite their good intentions, this type of board leadership may no longer work. There is a growing need for board members who bring expertise from other healthcare organizations with experience managing for value.

That's where the board of the Nemours Foundation, which oversees Nemours Children's Health System found itself in 2006 when David Bailey, MD, came aboard as CEO at the health system's Jacksonville, Fla., headquarters.

Wanted: Expertise
"We needed to bring on folks who have an intimate understanding not just of governance, fiduciary responsibility and compliance, and the strategic plan, but also folks who understood the real-world challenges of healthcare today with its evolving consumerism, the impact of technology, and the drive to take care of the health of a population," he says.

Bailey worked closely with his board and the health system has grown from a $500 million net revenue operation a decade ago to a $1.2 billion institution with two children's hospitals and 60 locations in six states today.

Last fall, the Nemours Foundation added four national health leaders to its board:

  • Linda Norman, dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and the board's first nurse leader
  • Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD, president of the Morehouse School of Medicine
  • Jim Hunt, retired executive vice president and CFO of The Walt Disney Co.
  • Marc Probst, CIO of Intermountain Healthcare

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.

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