Chutes & Ladders—Southeast Georgia Health System CEO to retire; Mass General Brigham's names a chief community health officer

Welcome to this week's Chutes & Ladders, our roundup of hirings, firings and retirings throughout the industry. Please submit the good news—or the bad—from your shop, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Michael D. Scherneck
(Southeast Georgia
Health System)

Michael D. Scherneck is retiring from his post as president and CEO of Southeast Georgia Health System early next year.

He's been with the health system for nearly 20 years, having been appointed to his current roles in 2015. Prior to that he spent more than 12 years as its executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Scherneck’s time leading the health system saw growth among its affiliated physician practice, a regional alliance with Baptist Health and a $142 million campus expansion project. He also oversaw the provider’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

Beyond the president and CEO positions, Scherneck also holds spots on a slew of professional and community boards. These include the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, Vizient Southern States and the St. Francis Xavier Catholic School Finance Council.

Southeast Georgia Health System said that it has been working with Scherneck on a succession plan since September. They have already established a search committee and have hired an executive search firm to fill the open slot.

Elsie M. Taveras, M.D.
(Mass General Brigham)

Elsie M. Taveras, M.D., is Mass General Brigham’s first-ever chief community health equity officer, the Boston-based health system announced earlier this week.

The new role will see her working with others across the system to tackle inequality and racism as part of a new systemwide strategy centered around community health and care equity outcomes.

She is already serving as chief of the division of general academic pediatrics as well as the executive director of the Kraft Center for Community Health at Mass General Hospital. She will maintain these positions after stepping into the new title partway through May.

The health system noted that Taveras has published more than 250 research studies across her career. She’s led programs focused on substance abuse treatment, community health training and more for the Kraft Center, and holds professor positions at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Juliette McClendon
(Big Health)

Juliette McClendon has been named the new director of medical affairs for Big Health, a digital behavioral health company known for its app-based sleep and anxiety programs.

She comes by way of Boston University School of Medicine, where she served as an assistant professor of psychiatry. She also worked at the National Center for PTSD in the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System’s Women’s Health Sciences Division and was named a Health Disparities Research Institute Scholar by the National Institutes of Health in 2010.

As a clinical psychologist, McClendon’s research has explored treatments for mood, anxiety and personality disorders. She has also worked over the years to address these conditions among people of color.

Big Health said that she’ll be leaning on that experience in the new position, where she’ll help the digital health company make the clinical case for its products and advance mental health equity.

John C. Bennett
(UVA Health)

John C. Bennett will step into the role of UVA Health’s new chief ambulatory operations officer, the system recently announced.

He is joining UVA Health from a similar role at PeaceHealth, where he served as the nonprofit’s chief executive of ambulatory services.

Prior to that Bennett had spent two decades with Providence St. Joseph Health, where he was chief executive of its Southern California region.

Starting July 1, he will be responsible for all of UVA Health’s clinical and ambulatory practice operations. These outpatient services deliver more than 1 million visits annually across Virginia.

> Platte Valley Medical Center announced that President Jon Hicks will be retiring in January 2022 after 26 years with the hospital.

> Care Angel, a healthcare AI and automation company, has announced Bud Flagstad as its new CEO.

> Palantir Technologies has brought on William J. Kassler, M.D., from IBM Watson Health as its first U.S. government chief medical officer.

> Better Health, a recently launched startup medical supplier, has tapped Rosemary Ku, M.D., as its new vice president of medical affairs. Ku is also the chief medical officer for UnitedAg.

> Prospero Health, a provider of home medical care, announced Kris Smith, M.D. as its new chief clinical officer and Theresa Soriano, M.D., as its associate chief clinical officer.

> Suki, maker of a digital assistant for clinical documentation and other administrative tasks, has promoted Erin Palm to vice president of clinical and added Alexa Bisinger, M.D., as a medical director.

> Manatt, Phelps & Phillips has added Linda Elam, a former Medicaid director, and Blair M. Cantfil, a health policy and regulatory advisor, to the firm’s Manatt Health Group in Washington, D.C.

> Wellsheet, maker of an EHR-compatible predictive clinical workflow platform, has appointed Ryan Sadlo as vice president of growth, a new role.