Physician selected to be Premier Health COO, MVH hospital

Premier Health, one of the largest health systems and employers in the region, has selected a physician for the first time to lead Miami Valley Hospital and become the system’s chief operating officer.

Dr. Chad Whelan will assume his role Aug. 7 as Miami Valley Hospital president Premier Health COO, succeeding Barbara Johnson, who will retire as COO and interim president of the hospital after 20 years

“This dual role gives me both the opportunity to have a broad impact across the continuum of health care and bring to bear my experience in academic medicine, while still keeping me connected to the bedside and our front lines of care as Miami Valley Hospital president,” Whelan said.

Whelan’s career includes clinical and leadership experience in academic medical centers and other health systems across the U.S., including Banner Health, Loyola University Health, and the University of Chicago Medicine. Most recently, Whelan was the strategic advisor to University of Arizona Health Sciences, working with the president of the University of Arizona and the senior vice president of Health Sciences Division.

“Health care is ultimately local, so Premier Health’s role as a regional system that is truly of and for the community which it serves has great appeal to me and speaks to how I’d like to make an impact. My family and I are very much looking forward to learning about Dayton and southwest Ohio, immersing ourselves in the community, and making it our home,” Whelan said.

His appointment follows a national search and review of dozens of candidates, Premier Health said.

“Chad brings a depth and breadth of experience that complements Premier Health’s strategic plan in the areas of academics, operational excellence, and partnerships,” said Michael C. Riordan, president and CEO of Premier Health.

Whelan has also served as CEO of Banner-University Medicine Tucson and president of Loyola University Medical Center. Whelan received his medical degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of Minnesota, where he was chief resident.

Whelan also holds a master’s degree in health services administration in public health and business administration from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. He has served as a professor of medicine, as well as served on numerous national committees, including currently as the treasurer for the Society of Hospital Medicine Board of Directors.

Whelan, who grew up in the Chicago area and has mostly lived in the Midwest, will be relocating to the Miami Valley area from Tucson, Arizona, with his wife, Nicole, and their family.

“I look forward to welcoming him back to the Midwest. I’m confident Chad will be a great fit within Premier Health’s culture and will advance our organizational goals and mission to improve the health of the communities we serve,” Riordan said.

Premier Health also recognized Johnson’s retirement, saying she was key in making Premier Health a leader for diversity and inclusion, which led to the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce renamed its annual diversity and inclusion award in honor of the health system.

“Barb has been an integral and trailblazing member of our system’s leadership team,” Riordan said. “Without her leadership and steady hand, we would not recognize Premier Health as it is today.”

In 2020, Johnson was named a Modern Healthcare Minority Leader to Watch, and the National Conference for Community and Justice of Greater Dayton in 2022 recognized her as its Humanitarian Honoree. She co-chaired Premier Health’s African-American Wellness Walk in 2019. She has served the region and state in additional ways, including on the Governor’s Executive Workforce Board.

“During Barb’s tenure, she spearheaded many consequential initiatives, successfully navigated challenging market conditions, and mentored and inspired countless employees along the way. Her dedication to our values and mission, her humility, and her support of her peers and her various teams have set a remarkable example for all of us,” Riordan said.

Whelan will be the second highest ranking executive at Premier Health, one of the largest employers in the region with more than 11,000 employees in 2022, according to the Ohio Department of Development. Premier Health has five hospital sites, seven emergency departments, eight urgent cares, and more than 130 outpatient locations, primary care, and physician offices.

Miami Valley Hospital is also the region’s only adult level one trauma center. The hospital saw more than 37,000 visits in 2022, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Premier Health saw revenues increasing from 2020 to 2022, going from $1.9 billion to $2.1 billion, along with seeing expenses also increasing during that time frame from $2 billion to $2.3 billion, according to financial statements from the hospital system. Premier Health reported negative operating margins through the pandemic, including -3.0% in 2020, -2.0% in 2021, and -8.5% in 2022, meaning the hospital network had a $281 million deficit over the three years.

Whelan is also the latest in a new trend of outside hires being named to high-ranking executive level positions at local hospital systems. In January 2022, Riordan became the first outside candidate hired to lead Premier Health since it was founded in 1995 when Miami Valley Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital (now closed) joined together. Kettering Health also recently announced its newest CEO as Michael Gentry, a former health system executive in Virginia.

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