Chutes & Ladders—Cleveland Clinic's new supply chain head; Cerner's first chief 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.

Cleveland Clinic

Steve Downey
(Cleveland Clinic)

Steve Downey is stepping into the role of chief supply chain and patient support services officer for Cleveland Clinic.

Downey has more than three decades of supply chain experience and has spent the last four years as the group senior vice president of supply chain operations at Vizient. In addition to heading up the group’s own supply chain operations business, he also offered guidance to nearly 250 U.S. healthcare facilities with which Vizient partners.

Immediately prior to Vizient, Downey spent another four years in leadership roles at international supply chain transport and logistics firm Geodis.

He will be taking on the responsibility for Cleveland Clinic’s global supply chain and support services with his new position in addition to providing strategic vision and oversight for new partnerships and joint ventures.


Cerner Chief Health Officer Nasim Afsar
Nasim Afsar, M.D.

Nasim Afsar, M.D., has been named as Cerner’s first-ever chief health officer, effective in January.

She comes to the role with more than a decade of healthcare leadership roles under her belt and currently serves as the chief operating officer at UCI Health. 

Prior to that, she served as a chief quality officer and associate chief medical officer at UCLA Health and for more than eight years participated in the Society of Hospital Medicine as a board member and president.

Afsar will lead Cerner’s clinician community of over 1,000 healthcare professionals in product development and patient care. She will also spearhead patient safety, regulatory, health policy, government affairs and continuous improvement for the health IT company.

Gateway Health Plan

Ellen Duffield
(Gateway Health Plan)

Ellen Duffield has been tapped as the new president and CEO of Gateway Health Plan, a roughly 360,000-member Medicaid managed care company that, as of this year, is wholly owned by Highmark Health.

The appointment is a promotion for Duffield, who had held the roles of senior vice president and chief operations officer at the company since joining in 2019. Her operational oversight and strategic direction for the company notably included a recent effort to transform Gateway’s enterprise technology so that it could scale for growth.

Duffield’s time prior to joining Gateway included president roles at DST Health Solutions and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan subsidiary Visiant Health Solutions.

The appointment is effective immediately and will see Duffield taking over for Highmark Health Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Karen Hanlon, who had been serving in an interim capacity since the departure of Cain Hayes back in June.


Vanessa Cao

Vanessa Cao is the new senior vice president of operations at Talkiatry, a provider network of virtual and in-person mental health care.

She comes from another operational role at HealthQuarters, where she helped open its first flagship health and wellness care location, and has held positions at NYU Langone Health and Deloitte Consulting.

Cao will be supporting her new company to strengthen its operations and administrative capabilities as it prepares to grow its staff and roll out nationally.

> Adventist Health and Rideout hospital picked up Dignity Health’s Chris Champlin, who will serve as president beginning Dec. 6.

> America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) will see Highmark Health President and CEO David Holmberg take over the board chair position from Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard in 2022. The organization also added Point32Health President and CEO Cain Hayes and CareOregon President and CEO Eric Hunter to its membership.

> Saint Barnabas Medical Center has appointed Ruth Bash as chief human resources officer.

> Tenet Healthcare has tapped Murali Naidu, M.D., as CEO of its Emanuel Medical Center in California.

> UNC Health has named Carolina Guimaraes, M.D., as division chief of pediatric radiology and Lane Donnelly, M.D., as executive medical director of pediatric population health and quality at its school of medicine.

> Penn State Health has appointed Jody Reyes as senior vice president and chief operating officer of its Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, effective Dec. 27.

> Brattleboro Memorial Hospital CEO Steven Gordon is set to retire in April 2022.

> First Choice Health has hired David Kinard as chief sales officer and Shidan Greene as vice president of operations.