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Alta Bates Summit CEO announces resignation

Summit/Alta Bates sources
Wednesday August 15, 2001

OAKLAND— Irwin Hansen, president and chief executive officer of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center said today that he will resign, effective September 1.  

Hansen stressed that the decision to leave the institution comes at the right time for the medical center and in his own career. 

Hansen said, “There’s never an ideal time to leave a job you love, but as a result of the hard work of the board, management and physician leadership, we’ve initiated a strategic plan for the future. We now have the road map in place to take the medical center to a new level. Despite the challenges that lay ahead, Alta Bates Summit will remain the premier health care organization in the East Bay.”  

The chair of the Alta Bates Summit board of trustees, Lawrence D. Fox, confirmed that the board had received and accepted the resignation. Warren Kirk currently Chief Operating Officer will assume responsibilities as interim CEO, Fox said. 

When Hansen arrived at Summit in 1993, the medical center was on the verge of bankruptcy following a bitter and divisive strike. His initial priorities were to stabilize the business, renew the medical center’s mission of community health, and find a financial partner to sustain the organization long term. Under Hansen’s leadership, Summit affiliated in 1999 with Sutter Health and merged with Berkeley’s Alta Bates Medical Center.  

Community and healthcare leaders expressed regret at Hansen’s announcement. “Irwin has taken a ‘tough love’ approach to healthcare in our community,” said State Senator Don Perata (D – Oakland). “He has a big heart but has always been a straight shooter. I’ve come to rely upon him as one of the most credible voices in the healthcare field. I hope he will continue to stay active here, continuing to advocate for our diverse ethnic, senior, and special needs communities.” 

“This news is extremely sad,” said Rose Ann De Moro, Executive Director of the California Nurses Association. “Irwin is one of the most sensitive CEOs with respect to health care, the community and the nursing profession. I personally will miss our positive working relationship.”  

“I have enjoyed the opportunity to get to know and work with Irwin over the past three years,” said Van Johnson, president and CEO of Sutter Health. “I have been impressed by his dedication to preserving vital community health care resources and by his vision for bringing Summit and Alta Bates Medical Centers together. Through Irwin’s leadership the medical center created a strong plan to take the organization to the next level,” Johnson added. 

“Irwin quickly demonstrated his commitment to creating a true partnership and community health. Irwin’s innovative approach was instrumental in the establishment the Ethnic Health Institute and the Health Ministry/Parish Nurse programs that are models for the entire country,” said Frank E. Staggers, Sr., M.D., president of the California Medical Association and an Alta Bates Summit physician.  

Hansen went on to acknowledge the outstanding team work demonstrated at Alta Bates Summit in the recent successes in quality care outcomes: The best hospital in the East Bay; Summit’s intensive care unit named one of the Top 100 ICUs in the U.S.; Alta Bates and Summit OB services among the best in the nation; Alta Bates’ outstanding heart attack outcomes; and Summit one of only three medical centers in California recognized for excellence in coronary artery bypass graft surgery clinical outcomes. 

“I’ve been running urban healthcare institutions non-stop for the past twenty years. While I love the work, it’s time for me to take this opportunity to pursue some things that I’ve put off for years,” Hansen said. “My first task will be to put 1,000 miles on my new bicycle. I’m looking forward to spending some time with my wife and daughters. I think it’s time for me to stop wearing a name tag around the house.”