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Analysis

UnityPoint CEO Kevin Vermeer Abruptly Quits

By John Commins  
   April 29, 2020

The Iowa-based health system provided no explanation for Vermeer's sudden departure, which came just days after UnityPoint announced COVID-19-related furloughs and layoffs.

UnityPoint Health President and CEO Kevin Vermeer abruptly resigned this week from the health system he has led for four years.

The West Des Moines, Iowa-based UnityPoint provided no explanation for Vermeer's sudden departure, which came just days after UnityPoint announced COVID-19-related furloughs and 15% pay cuts for executives.

Sue Thompson, MS, BSN, senior vice president of integration and optimization and CEO of UnityPoint Accountable Care, will serve as interim CEO while a national search is conducted for Vermeer's permanent replacement, UnityPoint said in a media release.

Vermeer had been with UnityPoint for more than 20 years, serving in a number of leadership capacities, including CFO in the Waterloo and Quad Cities regions and as CFO and then Chief Strategy Officer of the System.

Citing federal filings, the Des Moines Register reported that Vermeer's annual compensation in 2018, topped $1.7 million.

"We greatly appreciate Kevin's leadership and service over the past 20+ years," UnityPoint Board Chairman Randy Easton said. "Continued strong, innovative leadership is critical now more than ever before and we are fortunate to have Sue Thompson taking the helm during this time of transition."

Vermeer was credited with helping to develop UnityPoint's population health strategy, negotiating the Joint Operating Agreement with UW Health, forming partnerships in care financing, and creating a common set of FOCUS values for the health system's

He was also at the helm at UnityPoint in late 2019 when an attempted merger with South Dakota-based Sanford Health dissolved into grumbling and finger-pointing.

At that time, Vermeer said UnityPoint walked away from the deal after the health system "concluded we can most effectively fulfill our mission by maintaining our existing corporate structure."

In addition to her experience as a bedside nurse, Thompson has more than 30 years of extensive leadership experience at UnityPoint Health in regional operations and clinical performance improvement. Most recently, she has played a part in UnityPoint Health's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and previously served as CEO of the system's Fort Dodge region.

Thompson began her career more than 30 years ago as a bedside nurse and has served in leadership roles for clinical and operational improvements across. Most recently, she has played a key role in UnityPoint Health's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UnityPoint said.

UnityPoint is the nation's 13th largest nonprofit health system, with more than 30,000 employees, and 40 regional and community hospitals and other health venues across Iowa, western Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Sue Thompson, MS, BSN, senior vice president of integration and optimization and CEO of UnityPoint Accountable Care, will serve as interim CEO while a national search is conducted for Vermeer's permanent replacement.

Vermeer had been with UnityPoint for more than 20 years, serving in a number of leadership capacities, including CFO in the Waterloo and Quad Cities regions and as CFO and then Chief Strategy Officer of the System.


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