Two more top executives to leave Kaiser in shake-up

Published on

The San Francisco Chronicle

Two top executives at Kaiser Permanente will leave July 1, including its California division president, whose job has been eliminated by the giant nonprofit health group.

With the announcement, made late Friday afternoon, three top executives are leaving the Oakland health maintenance organization since new Chairman and Chief Executive Officer George Halvorson took control May 1.

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals Inc. and subsidiaries comprise the nation’s largest nonprofit HMO and cover one-third of Californians with health insurance. Kaiser recently has made progress in a financial makeover following three consecutive annual losses in the mid-1990s.

California division President Dick Pettingill, who had been a candidate for Halvorson’s position, now won’t have a job at Kaiser at all. His post is disappearing as a result of restructuring.

Instead all eight geographic regions will report directly to Oakland headquarters, according to a written statement from the HMO.

In addition, Bill Gillespie, executive vice president for patient safety
and clinical information systems, is departing to return to the East Coast, the statement said. He will be replaced by Louise Liang, chair of the nonprofit Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Boston.

The two departures follow last week’s announcement that Dale Crandall, president and chief operating officer, will resign in July after four years with Kaiser.

Halvorson, who had been president and chief executive of HealthPartners in Minneapolis, Minn., joined Kaiser and replaced retiring CEO David M. Lawrence, who had been at the helm for more than a decade.

Pettingill and Halvorson were unavailable for comment late Friday.
Kaiser spokeswoman Beverly Hayon said the restructuring will help create “an organization that moves quickly and makes decisions quickly.”

She said that Pettingill’s departure was his choice but that the elimination of his job also makes sense for the HMO: “It’s just one more layer of management and bureaucracy that slows us down.”

The departures are “absolutely the new CEO cleaning house,” which potentially will bring much-needed change, said Jamie Court, executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, a Santa Monica consumer advocacy group.

A top California health official said change could be positive for
Kaiser. “When it’s change in the state’s largest HMO, I think that offers key opportunities to move forward in areas of patient protection,” said Daniel Zingale, head of the state Department of Managed Health Care.

Zingale’s agency and Kaiser are embroiled in a legal battle over a $1.1 million fine against Kaiser for alleged patient care deficiencies and grievances.


E-mail the writers at [email protected] and [email protected].

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