Sentara Healthcare CEO to retire at end of year

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Sentara Healthcare CEO Howard Kern will retire by the end of the year, the Norfolk, Virginia-based system announced Friday.

An ad hoc committee of its board is launching a search for Kern’s replacement that’s expected to wrap up before the end of 2022, according to a press release. Kern has agreed to stay in the role until his successor is chosen.

Kern has been Sentara’s CEO since 2016. He started working for the not-for-profit health system in 1980 as an administrative fellow at its Norfolk General Hospital. After that, he occupied a number of leadership roles, including chief operating officer.

Sentara is entering a new era in healthcare, and now is the time for new leadership, Kern said in a statement.

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“I will forever remain personally devoted to Sentara Healthcare and the people who make it great,” he said. “I will support the Board and new CEO in whatever way I can to ensure a smooth transition that assures continued success for that individual, the system, and our communities.”

Sentara is a 12-hospital system that generated almost $9 billion in revenue in calendar 2020. Last year, Sentara scrapped plans to merge with Cone Health after a leadership shakeup at Cone and opposition from patients. The deal would have created a 17-hopsital system with $11 billion in combined revenue.

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