Providence CEO, president Rod Hochman to retire at year-end

Providence President and CEO Rod Hochman, M.D., has announced plans to retire at the end of the year, capping off a 45-year healthcare career and 17 years with the major Catholic health system.

The decision was announced in a Wednesday blog post, in which the nonprofit said its board of directors has already kicked off the process of selecting its next top executive. Hochman is slated to move into a CEO emeritus position on Jan. 1, 2025.

“Dr. Hochman has been a transformational leader who has shaped not only Providence, but the entire healthcare sector,” Michael Murphy, chair of the Providence St. Joseph Health board of directors, said in the post. “Thanks to his leadership, our family of organizations is working together across seven states to ensure the highest standard of care by deploying best practices and sharing healthcare resources. He has helped us envision a new model of healthcare that will ensure Providence continues to be here for our communities well into the future.”

An immunologist and rheumatologist, Hochman came over to Providence (then Providence Health & Services) when it absorbed Swedish Health Services, where he was president and CEO. He then took up those mantles at Providence in 2013 and stayed in the role as the system grew and combined with other West Coast organizations—most notably St. Joseph Health in 2016.

Rod Hochman, M.D.
Rod Hochman, M.D. (Providence)

Today, Renton, Washington-based Providence employs more than 122,000 people across 51 hospitals and over 1,100 clinics plus other programs in seven states. It tallies about 29 million total patient visits per year and runs a health plan covering 2.6 million lives.

The system has also spent the last few years squarely in the red. In 2023, it reported more than $28.7 billion in operating revenues but a -4.1% operating margin and a $596 million net loss. The losses had triggered an organizational restructuring and pruned executive team midway through 2022, which after one-time expenses has since helped Providence trim down its losses in more recent quarters.

Beyond organizational growth, the retirement blog post highlights other notable developments during Hochman's ensure such as increases to Providence’s charity care, unsubsidized Medicaid and community benefit to over $2.1 billion annually—though this is an area in which the nonprofit has been heavily scrutinized by lawmakers and state law enforcement.

Specifically, media investigations in 2022 found that the system had internal policies for extracting payments from poorer patients who met the requirements for its financial assistance programs. That prompted government officials to launch probes into the nonprofit’s charity care policies, leading to a recent settlement with the state of Washington in which the system agreed to refund or erase $157.7 million in medical care payments. A similar charity care probe in Oregon is still ongoing.

Hochman’s retirement announcement also credited the executive as a driving force behind Providence’s investments into community-based behavioral health, health equity and environmental stewardship, noting for the latter that Providence was the first U.S. health system to make a carbon negative pledge and join the White House Health Sector Climate Pledge.

Further, it pointed to Hochman’s push to transition Providence and the broader healthcare industry “into the digital age.” He was a key player in the formation of Truveta, a health data collective backed by numerous major health systems, increased access to virtual care offerings and a U.S. healthcare global capabilities center in India that monitors the organization’s patient care IT systems.

Among these, Hochman himself noted that the COVID-19 pandemic was his organization’s “finest hour.”

“From the moment the first known U.S. patient with COVID-19 was admitted to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett in January of 2020, our caregivers sprung into action, pulling together as a system and bringing our collective knowledge and resources to bear,” he said in the post. “I will always be inspired by the courage, professionalism and dedication of everyone at Providence.”

Outside of Providence, Hochman served as chair of the American Hospital Association board of trustees in 2021, where he again guided the healthcare system’s broader response to the pandemic. He’d also served as chair of the Catholic Health Association’s board of trustees from 2017-2018 and held senior roles at Sentara Healthcare, the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati and the Guthrie Health System prior to his time at Swedish Health Services.

“I have no doubt that, with our caregivers’ ongoing dedication to the Mission, Providence will continue to flourish and grow in ways we have yet to even imagine,” Hochman said.