Top executives out at Duke Regional Hospital

After years of stability, Duke Health's CEO and president are both stepping down.

Top executives out at Duke Regional Hospital

After a performance review, three executives from Duke Regional Hospital have resigned.

Former Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Hoy and Chief Nursing Officer Vicky Orto, as well as Chief Operating Officer Mitch Babb are among the executives.

In a letter to the Triangle Business Journal Dr. Craig Albanese said that he had determined the need for changes after reviewing the hospital's performance.

Albanese stated, "After a thorough evaluation of Duke Regional Hospital’s performance in the past year, I determined that transformation is needed. This requires several leadership changes to position our hospital for its long-term mission to care for our community and patients."

Albanese did not say if this assessment of hospital performance was related to finances. Duke and other health systems in the U.S. are facing significant financial challenges.

Kaufman Hall, a consulting firm, released a report in the fall of last year on behalf of American Hospital Association. The report projected that between 53 and 68 percent hospitals would have negative operating margins by 2022. According to Fitch ratings, Duke Health's fiscal year 2022 ended with a loss of operating income of $151.4m.

The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the problems of labor shortages, rising costs and worker shortages. Kaufman Hall's report projected that hospital labor costs and non-labor costs would increase by $86 billion in 2021 and $49 billion in 2022.

Albanese stated that in today's rapidly changing health care landscape both nationally and locally we must continue to act urgently to meet the needs our patients and organization. "That means improving how we provide care, sharing best practices and expertise and breaking down silos. We also need to promote innovation and systemness in order to improve our health system's performance."

On the leadership page of Duke Regional Hospital, Kristin Merritt is listed as the chief nursing officer. Merritt held the position of associate chief nursing officers in neurosciences at the health system prior to her current role. Leigh Bleecker is listed as the hospital's chief financial officer. She also holds this position at Duke Raleigh Hospital. The hospital does not list a chief operational officer.