July 9, 1999

Health care strategist named CEO of hospital

Health care strategist named CEO of hospital

Mark L. Penkhus, a health care executive with broad experience dealing with the myriad challenges facing academic medical centers, has been named chief executive officer of Vanderbilt University Hospital.

Penkhus comes to VUH from Ernst & Young LLP in Washington, D.C., and will assume his duties next month.

As CEO, he will be responsible for all aspects of the hospital's operation and financial performance.

"We are extremely pleased that Mark is coming on as CEO of the hospital," said Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs. "Having worked both inside hospital systems as well as on the outside as a consultant, he has gained valuable insights into today's complex health care industry."

These insights will come in handy in helping navigate the hospital through times of change and the increasing pressures brought on by managed care, TennCare and Medicare, said Norman B. Urmy, executive vice president for Clinical Affairs.

"Mark brings with him a great deal of experience and knowledge about the health care industry. He's seen it from both sides – the operational side and the consulting side – and it's given him the chance to examine institutions that are successful and those that aren't," Urmy said.

For the past five years at Ernst & Young in Washington, D.C., Penkhus was partner and business unit leader for health care consulting for the Mid-Atlantic area. Ernst & Young is an international professional services firm with 300 offices and 95,000 employees worldwide. Its health care consulting practice is made up of more than 120 partners and principals and 1,400 employees.

There, Penkhus provided strategy, managed care, integrated delivery, technology enablement and financial consulting services for academic medical centers, health care systems, health maintenance organizations and community-based health care organizations. He helped develop the practice from a small office to a market leader, increasing sales from $2.5 million to $20 million in four years.

Prior to his time with Ernst & Young, Penkhus was executive vice president and chief operating officer at 715-bed Harper Hospital, part of the Detroit Medical Center. In that position, he was responsible for working with leadership to form Harper Hospital's strategic direction. He was also accountable for overall organizational and operational effectiveness, operating and capital budgets, master facility planning and collaboration with department chairs and executive staff regarding programmatic development.

Prior to that, Penkhus was president and chief executive officer of St. Joseph's Health Care Network in Mt. Clemens, Mich., where he was responsible for all aspects of the facility, which comprised 533-acute care and 264-long term care beds.

Previously, Penkhus was also executive vice president and chief operating officer of Saint Mary-Corwin Hospital Regional Medical and Health Care Center in Pueblo, Colo., and assistant director of Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Conn.

Becoming CEO of Vanderbilt University Hospital is giving Penkhus the opportunity to help guide the medical center. It's a task he's eager to begin, and one that he says he's sure will be successful, due mostly to the quality of the people at VUMC.

"I'm very pleased to be assuming a leadership role at VUH and helping the medical center deal successfully with the many challenges facing academic medical centers," Penkhus said.

"VUMC is an outstanding medical center with a wonderful reputation across the country. It has very solid, forward-thinking leadership, and I've been impressed with the direction and balance between the research, education and patient care missions.

"There's a willingness among the leadership and faculty and staff to face the challenges that academic medical centers are facing and will be facing in the future that is inspiring," he said.

Penkhus succeeds Marsha N. Casey, who left Vanderbilt in January to become president of St. Vincent's Health System in Indianapolis.

He received his B.S. from Iowa State University in 1971; his M.A. in hospital and health care administration from the University of Iowa in 1973; his M.B.A. from New York's Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1982; and graduated from the advanced management program at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in 1990.