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As UW Medicine moves forward in its efforts to build and structure a true system-wide approach to providing healthcare, I would like to share some UW Medicine leadership changes designed to further this endeavor.

We are making steady progress with the UW Medical Center/Northwest Hospital integration. As we set our sights on a January 2020 go-live, it is essential to solidify the leadership structure for the two-campus hospital. Therefore, I am pleased to announce that Cindy Hecker, RN, Executive Director of Northwest Hospital, will become the new Executive Director for UW Medical Center and Northwest Hospital. Geoff Austin, UW Medical Center’s current Executive Director, will take on the role of Chief Operating Officer for both hospitals. Starting October 1, Cindy and Geoff will assume these new positions and their leadership roles will continue to cover the combined campuses once the integration is complete.

In another move to better align our different sites of practice, Debra Gussin, UW Neighborhood Clinic Executive Director, will serve in the additional role of Associate Vice President of Primary Care Services and Population Health. This new position will provide executive leadership and strategic direction for primary care and population health services across UW Medicine.

Cindy, a long-time UW Medicine employee, began her career as a bedside nurse at Harborview Medical Center. She rose through the ranks to become Harborview’s Chief Nursing Officer and acting Executive Director before taking on the Executive Director leadership role at Northwest Hospital in 2012. In her new Executive Director role over UW Medical Center and Northwest Hospital, Hecker will provide overall executive leadership and oversight for clinical, operational and administrative duties, including developing and achieving strategic plan goals; annual financial budget development and management; long-range financial planning; clinical planning; compliance; personnel management; and outreach to foster awareness of the critical role that UW Medical Center and Northwest Hospital play in the community. Cindy will continue to report directly to me.

Geoff will partner with Cindy in the overall management of the two hospitals, as well as continue to help guide the UW Medical Center/Northwest Hospital integration. As Chief Operating Officer, he will oversee the implementation of strategic initiatives to enhance the range and value of the two medical centers and will provide executive direction over the general operations of both medical centers. Geoff will also help drive new program and service line development essential to the success of both hospitals and specialty clinics. He will represent UW Medical Center and Northwest Hospital on internal and external boards, commissions and associations, and will chair key medical center operating committees and councils. He will report to Cindy.

Debra, in her additional role as Associate Vice President of Primary Care and Population Health, will be responsible for strategic planning, strategic partnerships, organizational development, and financial and operational oversight to ensure quality, productivity and efficiency in the areas of primary care and population health. This will include developing and maintaining an enterprise-wide standard for primary care across the 14 UW Neighborhood Clinics, the primary care clinics at Northwest Hospital, and UWMC-Roosevelt, while partnering with primary care clinics at Harborview and Valley Medical Center. Debra and I will partner with the Chief Medical Officer in the near future to ensure appropriate clinical leadership in primary care and population health is established. Debra will begin this additional role on October 1 and will continue to report to me.

I recognize that many of you may have questions about these changes and how they may impact your roles or programs. As we have further details, we will be providing additional information in the Huddle, in forums such as our LDI’s and Town Halls, and through communications such as this. In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact any of us.

Thank you for all you do and your commitment to the ongoing success of UW Medicine. Please join me in congratulating Cindy, Geoff and Debra and supporting them in their new positions.


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