Lawrence Memorial Hospital names CEO
Russell W. Johnson today was named as President and Chief Executive Officer of Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Johnson, 57, comes from the Centura Health System in Englewood, Colorado, where he most recently served as Senior Vice President of Network Development and Outreach. He grew up in Merriam, Kansas, graduating from Shawnee Mission Northwest high school, and still has strong family ties to the area.
Cindy Yulich, chairperson of the LMH Board of Trustees, said trustees are gratified that the extensive search culminated with Johnson’s selection. "We are extremely pleased to have on board a health care executive with the leadership skills Russ Johnson demonstrates," Yulich said. "He is experienced in formulating, communicating and executing strategies for improved patient care, physician engagement, operating effectiveness and community partnerships. As importantly, his character and integrity impressed the entire board of trustees.
“His expertise will help lead our organization as we face an increasingly challenging, and exciting, future. We are confident he will build upon the strong foundation established at Lawrence Memorial during Gene Meyer’s tenure and advance the continued vision for LMH to be the best community hospital in the nation.”
LMH launched a national search for a new CEO in August, 2015, following the announcement that Meyer would be retiring May 31 after serving as CEO for 19 years. The search attracted more than 150 candidates. A board-appointed search committee composed of trustees, physicians and community members has been assisted by the executive search firm of Witt Kieffer of Oakbrook, Illinois, in narrowing the applicant pool. Andrew Ramirez of Lathrop, Gage LLP served as counsel to Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
Johnson is a seasoned health care executive with 30 years of successful senior leadership in hospitals and health systems in both the urban and rural setting. Prior to his present role, Johnson served as the CEO for San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center in Alamosa, Colorado, for 12 years.
He began his health care career in 1984 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he was an assistant administrator and administrative fellow for a 540-bed regional medical center. He also served as vice president of operations for VHA Iowa before returning to the Kansas City area in 1989 to become assistant administrator of operations for Saint Luke’s Northland, a position he held for eight years. He was chief operating officer for Edinburg Regional Medical Center, a 169-bed hospital in Edinburg, Texas, from 1997 to 2000.
Johnson is active in many professional, civic and community organizations. He served 12 years on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Hospital Association and was a Board member for the American Hospital Association for three years. In 2007 he was awarded the American Hospital Association’s Shirley Ann Munroe Leadership Award, which recognizes the accomplishments of a small or rural hospital leader who has improved health care delivery in their communities through innovative and progressive efforts. He also received the Rural Healthcare Excellence Award by the Colorado Rural Health Center in 2007 and was the Colorado AHA Grassroots Champion for 2008.
He is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow. He received a bachelor’s degree in management and economics from University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and a master’s degree in health care administration from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.
Johnson and his wife, Isabel, will be relocating to the Lawrence community in the near future. They have a son, 27, who is in the fine arts program at CU Denver, and a daughter, Natalie, who lives in New York City and is a choreographer and dancer for her own dance company.
Johnson is expected to be on the job by August 1. LMH Chief Operating Officer Karen Shumate will serve as interim CEO from June 1 until his arrival. Yulich said, “The trustees look forward to working with Karen to provide a smooth transition to new leadership and thank her for agreeing to serve in this role.”