Medical Center taps new president

By Kate Shepherd

Former Hershey Medical Center director David Hefner was named the new president of the University of Chicago Medical Center Wednesday, succeeding former President Michael Riordan, who left in July of this year.

Though Riordan was president of the U of C Hospitals—a branch of the medical center umbrella—Hefner will oversee the entire medical center in an effort to consolidate physicians and medical researchers, according to John Easton, spokesman for the U of C Hospitals.

“David Hefner was selected for his long and impressive track record and wide range of experience in health care administration,” said Jim Madara, M.D., chief executive officer of the University of Chicago Medical Center, in a U of C Medical Center press release.

Hefner began working part-time November 1 and will start full-time on December 1.

He oversaw a huge turnaround for Penn State University’s Hershey Medical Center, where he served as executive director and chief operating officer from 2002 until earlier this year. In 2003, analysts predicted that Hershey Medical Center would lose $24 million, but under Hefner’s guidance, the medical center made a dramatic turn and instead earned $7 million that year, according to the press release.

Hershey Medical Center received many accolades under Hefner. After he installed a state-of-the-art electronic health-record system in the center, Hershey was named one of the 10 most wired hospitals in the nation by Hospitals and Health Networks magazine and one of the nation’s “Most Connected” hospitals by Health Imaging & IT magazine.

“Having consulted for more than 25 years, I’ve become knowledgeable about many different health systems, and the opportunity to take on a leadership role at the University of Chicago Medical Center, one of the world’s leading institutions, is an honor and a privilege as well as a huge responsibility,” Hefner said in the release.

“David emerged early in the process as a leading candidate,” said Medical Center Board Chair Valerie Jarrett in the release. “He has made dramatic improvements at several leading hospitals and health systems as both a hands-on leader and as a consultant.”

In April, Solucient Top Hospitals ranked Hershey as one of the “Top 15 Teaching Hospitals” in the United States. University HealthSystem Consortium named it a “top-tier performer” for cost and operating efficiencies, clinical quality, and overall patient satisfaction.

“David is an outstanding leader. He is energetic, imaginative, and effective,” said Darrell G. Kirsch, M.D., president of the Association of Medical Colleges and former dean and CEO of Penn State Hershey Medical Center, in the release.

Two years after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, Hefner founded Consulting Concepts, Inc., a firm that advised the management of physician-group practice operations. He then earned a master’s degree in public administration–health services in 1982 from Brigham Young University. Hefner served as a senior partner with the Computer Sciences Corporation after CSC merged with Consulting Concepts, Inc. in 1994.

Hefner is known for his contribution to the development of “mission-based management,” an approach that helps teaching hospitals and medical schools, like the U of C Medical Center, with everyday operations and provides them with room for growth and change.

He was also vital to the development of an innovative healthcare plan for the employees of the Hershey Medical Center and their dependents.

Hefner said he is ready to take on his new role at University of Chicago.

“I look forward to working closely with Dr. Madara, the University of Chicago’s renowned physicians and scientists, the senior leadership team, and staff to create the most highly integrated and efficient academic health center that continues to be relevant in the community and serves as a leading edge example for the country,” Hefner said.