SARASOTA, Fla. (April 23, 2014) – After nearly 10 years at the helm, Gwen MacKenzie is stepping down as president & CEO of Sarasota Memorial Health Care System next month and returning to her home state to assume a leadership position in the nation’s largest Catholic and nonprofit health system.
MacKenzie will remain at Sarasota Memorial through the month of May. On June 1, she will assume a national leadership role with Ascension Health, the nation’s largest Catholic and nonprofit health system, with executive oversight of the organization’s Michigan Ministries.
In her new role as Senior Vice President, Ascension Health / Michigan Market Leader, MacKenzie will be responsible for the administrative direction, strategic positioning and operations of Ascension Health’s five health systems in Michigan – Borgess Health, Genesys Health System, St. John Providence Health System, St. Joseph Health System and St. Mary’s of Michigan – which collectively have 31,000 employees and more than 150,000 patient discharges and 4 million outpatient visits throughout the state.
“Sarasota Memorial is a very special organization with outstanding doctors and staff, and it’s been an honor to serve this community,” MacKenzie said. “It will be hard to leave so many good friends and colleagues. I’ve had the privilege of working with a phenomenal team. I’m proud of all we have accomplished these past nine years and I know that SMH is on a path to continued success.”
Marguerite Malone, Ed.D, chair of the Sarasota County Public Hospital Board, announced MacKenzie’s resignation to staff, physicians and key partners Wednesday. The board has appointed Sarasota Memorial’s Chief Operating Officer David Verinder as interim CEO, effective June 1. Verinder joined Sarasota Memorial in 2006 as chief financial officer and has served as COO since 2010.
With Sarasota Memorial’s strong leadership team and the support of staff, the Hospital Board expects a smooth transition as it leads a nationwide search for a successor.
“Thanks to Gwen’s outstanding leadership and vision, she is leaving Sarasota Memorial in an exceptionally strong position, from both a quality and financial perspective,” Malone said. “We have an experienced Board and strong leadership team in place, ready to maintain and build upon the stable foundation Gwen has shaped.”
Since joining Sarasota Memorial in 2005, Gwen has successfully implemented numerous patient care and operational improvements. Indeed, the organization has been repeatedly honored by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (Magnet designation), U.S. News, Thomson Reuters, HealthGrades and numerous other national organizations for our excellent care and robust operational performance. During the past several years, Gwen’s strong focus on growth opportunities and cost-saving measures helped turn around a financial loss into a positive margin. The organization’s positive financial results paved the way for bond-rating upgrades and our $250 million campus improvement project. Gwen also led the organization through a period of unprecedented growth and improved access to care, opening seven outpatient centers in the past nine years, including Sarasota Memorial's freestanding Emergency Room and Health Care Center in the medically underserved community of North Port.
Throughout her tenure, MacKenzie also has been a steadfast advocate, serving on committees and boards locally and at the state and national level, to advance high-quality health care.
“We and the Sarasota community will miss a wonderful leader and friend,” Malone said. “She has made a tremendous impact that reaches far beyond the walls of Sarasota Memorial and positions us well for the future. We wish her all the best and much success in her new role.”