Scott Nishimura Reporter
Doug Hawthorne, who spearheaded the 1997 formation of Texas Health Resources and put the organization on a 10-year plan to focus its efforts on a balance between well-being and sick care, said Tuesday he plans to step down by the end of the year.
Hawthorne, 66, who has been with the system since 1970, said he and his wife Martha “have decided that it is time for us to spend more time with our children and grandchildren…and devote more time to serving the community in areas that are close to our hearts.”
Stephen Love, president of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, called Hawthorne a “pioneer in developing innovative health care delivery systems for patients.”
“Doug’s integrity, leadership and collaborative spirit with other providers have been instrumental in making North Texas a health care delivery region that represents the gold standard for the rest of the nation,” Love said in a statement.
Anne T. Bass, THR’s board chair, is leading a board committee that will conduct a national search for candidates to replace Hawthorne, THR said.
The search “will include internal and external candidates with the intention of having the new leader in place by the fall of 2014,” THR said.
“Texas Health has one of the strongest leadership teams of any healthcare system in the country – and this will not change,” Bass said in a statement.
“We are financially stable and have the necessary resources and expertise to complete a successful realization of our strategy to transform healthcare in North Texas and become a nationally recognized health leader,” she said.
“Doug’s influence can be seen throughout the organization – from his strong relationships with employees, volunteers and physicians, to leaders throughout the community.”
THR spokesman Wendell Watson said Hawthorne and Bass were declining media interviews.
Hawthorne began his healthcare career in 1970 as an administrative assistant with Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, while completing his master of science in healthcare administration from Trinity University in San Antonio.
He became president and CEO of Presbyterian Healthcare System and Presbyterian Healthcare Resources. Hawthorne held those positions when he led the formation of Texas Health Resources in 1997, consolidating Presbyterian, Harris Methodist Health System, and Arlington Memorial Hospital. The system today has 25 acute-care and short-stay hospitals that it owns, operates, has in joint venture, or is affiliated with.
In 2In 2007, THR, under Hawthorne’s leadership, adopted a 10-year plan to reduce the lengths of hospital stays. The plan put the focus on everything from education, prevention, and primary care relationships, to acute care, rehab, home health, long-term, and hospice care.
“As we examine our future, it’s about health and well-being as well as sick care,” Hawthorne said in an interview in the December issue of HealthLeaders magazine. “That’s the driving force for the conversations we have around here. The acute care model is not a sustainable one in its current form.”
Hawthorne was named to Modern Healthcare magazine’s annual list of “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” in 2012 and 2013. He was featured on the December 2013 cover of HealthLeaders as one of “The HealthLeaders Twenty” – a group of national healthcare leaders.
Hawthorne acknowledged in the HealthLeaders interview that “the hospital has been our livelihood” and reducing the lengths of hospital stays and moving toward a new business model has required a delicate balance.
“We can’t give up the revenue base that’s been the lifeblood of the organization in terms of hospitalization, but filling beds is no longer how you assess the business model for us,” he said in the interview.
THR is leading Fort Worth’s push to become recognized as a “Blue Zones” community – an international program in which communities urge residents to live healthier, happier, more productive lives by implementing practices from places where people live longest.
Members of the business community “get it, and they know as well as we do that they have to make modifications in payment methods to include reimbursement for helping keep people well,” Hawthorne told HealthLeaders. “It’s a fine balance.” Texas Health reported it has more than 21,100 employees in its fully-owned or operated facilities, and another 1,400 in joint ventures. It has more than 3,800 licensed hospital beds. In 2012, it had $3.7 billion in operating revenue and $5.3 billion in assets.