July 10, 2009

New positions solidify clinical leadership

New positions solidify clinical leadership

Three senior leaders have received promotions which call for each to have performance oversight across a broad range of Vanderbilt Medical Center's clinical services.

Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, and Wright Pinson, M.D., M.B.A., deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs and senior associate dean for Clinical Affairs, announced the restructuring of the position of chief medical officer for the Vanderbilt Medical Group into two positions that will oversee Adult Services and Pediatric Services.

At the same time, they announced a permanent leader for the Heart and Vascular Institute. All three positions will report to Pinson.

• Keith Churchwell, M.D., was appointed executive director and chief medical officer for VHVI.

• Jonathan Gitlin, M.D., was named assistant vice chancellor for Maternal and Child Health Affairs and associate dean for Clinical Affairs in the School of Medicine.

• Paul Sternberg, M.D., was named assistant vice chancellor for Adult Health Affairs and associate dean for Clinical Affairs in the School of Medicine.

“As the Medical Center has grown, so have the responsibilities of the position of chief medical officer. We believe broadening the responsibilities of this position into these two distinct areas will allow Drs. Gitlin and Sternberg the opportunity to have great impact,” Pinson said.

“Keith, Jonathan and Paul each have stellar histories within VUMC as highly successful leaders,” Balser said. “Dr. Pinson and I have great confidence each will bring their considerable talents to these new positions, resulting in outstanding benefits for our Medical Center.”

Churchwell has been serving in his new role on an interim basis. He will be responsible for the quality of clinical care, patient satisfaction, direct oversight of operational and financial performance, strategic planning and overall contribution of VHVI to the Medical Center and University.

Keith Churchwell, M.D.

Keith Churchwell, M.D.

“I am honored and truly excited about the opportunity to lead such a great group of physicians, nurses and staff here at VHVI,” Churchwell said. “There has been tremendous work done over the past few years in extending our presence in the community, both locally and regionally. I look forward to working with all my colleagues in continuing to push the mission forward of high quality, innovative cardiovascular care that can make a real difference both on the local and national scene.”

Churchwell will be supported in these efforts by John Byrne, M.D., chair of the Department of Cardiac Surgery; Douglas Sawyer, M.D., chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine; Thomas Naslund, M.D., chief of the Division of Vascular Surgery; Robin Steaban, R.N., M.S.N., administrative director of Cardiovascular Services; Larry Goldberg, chief executive officer for Vanderbilt University Hospital, and David Posch, chief executive officer for TVC, among others.

“We are extraordinarily fortunate to have Keith take on these leadership roles for the Heart and Vascular Institute,” Sawyer said. “He is a fantastic physician and colleague who has been a key leader in the creation of the Heart and Vascular Institute. He not only understands ‘Where Heart is Headed,’ but actually has the map for how we are going to get there.”

“We are pleased that Dr. Churchwell has been appointed to this new position,” Byrne said. “Keith brings not only extensive experience as a busy clinician, but also vast knowledge of the local cardiovascular marketplace. His presence on the leadership team will be extremely valuable in helping us not only manage our day-to-day operations, but also to help us make important decisions regarding the overall direction of VHVI as an organization.”

In his new role, Gitlin will be broadly responsible for the operations and strategy development for clinical practices, quality outcomes and process improvement across all Pediatric Services.

Jonathan Gitlin, M.D.

Jonathan Gitlin, M.D.

He will also continue to serve as the chair of the Department of Pediatrics and physician-in-chief for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

“I am deeply grateful to Jeff Balser and Wright Pinson for their confidence in me and look forward to continued collaboration with Kevin Churchwell to serve the needs of our colleagues and our community on behalf of all children and families,” Gitlin said.

Gitlin will be supported in this role by Kevin Churchwell, M.D., CEO and executive director of Children's Hospital; Posch, and department chairs and division chiefs across Pediatrics, among others.

“Jonathan's appointment is great news and I look forward to working with him as we continue to develop our children's hospital as a national leader in pediatric clinical care, advocacy, research and discovery,” Kevin Churchwell said.

In his new position, Sternberg will oversee adult VMG services and will be broadly responsible for the operations and strategy development for clinical practice in all areas involving the care of adult patients.

Paul Sternberg, M.D.

Paul Sternberg, M.D.

He will also retain his current position as chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and director of the Vanderbilt Eye Institute.

“As we enter this transformational period in health care, I believe Vanderbilt is uniquely positioned to set the standard as the academic medical center of the 21st century,” Sternberg said. “I am honored to join the team that will lead us through these exciting and challenging times.”

Sternberg will also be responsible for clinical performance, coordination of physician practice, quality standards and care protocols in the adult settings.

“Paul has done an outstanding job as department chair and with the other leadership roles within VMG he has held. He has always sought to serve the best interest of the institution,” said Goldberg. “He has been very effective in solving strategic and operational issues, finding solutions that have always been balanced in serving the needs of his clinical department as well as the goals of the institution as a whole.”

Sternberg will be supported by the medical directors of Adult Services and Patient Care Centers, including: James “Pete” Powell, M.D., assistant chief medical officer for Vanderbilt Medical Group Williamson County; Rob Hood, M.D., medical director for Vanderbilt Health at One Hundred Oaks; Jim Jirjis, M.D., assistant chief medical officer for Adult Primary Care; Goldberg and Posch.

“Drs. Sternberg and Gitlin have been outstanding department chairs in providing leadership on improving the performance of clinics in their respective disciplines,” Posch said. “They have both championed high standards for performance in service and quality to create good practice environments and to achieve outstanding results for our patients. I look forward to their counsel and leadership as we continue to improve our clinic operations across the VMG.”