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Spectrum Health CEO to Step Down

News  |  By Philip Betbeze  
   October 17, 2017

Richard Breon, who has led the Michigan-based health system since 2000, says he will retire, but the board will have more than a year to find his replacement.

Spectrum Health President and CEO Richard C. Breon has announced he will retire from leading the 12-hospital integrated health system after nearly 20 years at the helm. His retirement will be effective Jan. 1, 2019, and the health system will engage a search firm to conduct a national internal and external search for his replacement.

Breon has served as the top leader for Spectrum for the majority of its existence—it was created in 1997 from the merger of two Grand Rapids, Michigan, community hospitals: Butterworth Health Corporation and Blodgett Memorial Medical Center.

The company has grown since then both organically and through mergers with other Michigan community hospitals from 7,500 employees to more than 25,000 employees, 12 hospitals, 180 ambulatory and service sites, and Priority Health, the health system’s proprietary health plan. It’s also grown from $710 million in revenue in 1997 to more than $6 billion in its upcoming fiscal year.

“The commitment and dedication of our employees and physicians have provided Spectrum Health with our most meaningful accomplishments—those that make a significant difference in the lives of our patients, members and families,” said Breon, in a press release. “Our growth has been framed by our mission of improving health in the communities we serve. That has been our compass for making strategic decisions about where to invest in programs and services.”

Achievements during Breon’s tenure include:

  • Richard DeVos Heart and Lung Transplant Program, the only heart and lung transplant service in West Michigan.
  • Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center, West Michigan’s only accredited chest pain center which boasts the state’s highest volume among hospitals that perform open heart surgery.
  • Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, with 300 pediatric physicians in 50 pediatric specialties and programs.
  • Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion.
  • In 2017, Spectrum was named one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems by Truven Health Analytics for the sixth time since 2010.
  • In 2016, Spectrum Health received the American Hospital Association’s Foster G. McGaw Prize for Excellence in Community Service.
  • Spectrum Health also received AHA’s NOVA Award in 2016 for its work to improve maternal and infant health among African Americans and Latinos in Kent County.
  • Priority Health HMO was named by the State of Michigan to serve as the essential health benefits benchmark plan for all individual and group HMO plans in the state.

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.

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