CEO turnover up, retirement a key factor

Since the recession took hold, layoffs of rank-and-file hospital employees have become a fairly common source of news at U.S. media outlets. However, CEOs are increasingly hitting the unemployment line as well, but not always for the same reasons their staff members do. Last year, CEO turnover at the nation's hospitals reached its highest rate since 1999, according to a new study from the Chicago-based American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE).

States with the highest percentage turnover rates (adjusted in states with 30 or more hospitals to account for unrecorded interim and acting CEOs) are: the District of Columbia (63 percent), Delaware (40 percent), Alaska (33 percent), Arkansas (32 percent), Wyoming (32 percent), New Mexico (32 percent), Oregon (31 percent), Rhode Island (30 percent), Vermont (29 percent) and South Carolina (26 percent).

While other factors such as poor financial performance or quality-of-care concerns can, and do, result in CEO departures, the "primary driver" for the jump in turnover likely is the retirement of baby boomer executives, says Thomas C. Dolan, president and CEO of the ACHE. "These findings underscore the need for healthcare organizations to have good succession planning in place to ensure organizational success when changes in senior leadership occur."

To learn more about CEO turnover in 2009:
- read the ACHE press release