William Jennings is leaving his positions as president and CEO of Bridgeport Hospital and executive vice president of Yale New Haven Health to become president and CEO of Reading (Pennsylvania) Hospital, effective Oct. 15.
Named as Bridgeport’s interim CEO is Michael Ivy, the hospital’s chief medical officer (CMO) since 2012 and deputy CMO of Yale New Haven Health since 2016. Ryan O’Connell will serve as interim CMO beginning in October. He has been vice president of performance and risk management for the last six years.
“I was not looking to leave Fairfield County, Bridgeport Hospital or Yale New Haven Health,” Jennings told the Business Journal. “But this is an opportunity to help grow Reading Hospital and Tower Health, which is a nascent system that didn’t even exist a couple of years ago.”
Tower Health was formed in October 2017 following Reading’s acquisition of five other eastern Pennsylvania hospitals from Community Health Systems. The Tower system includes 11,000 employees and 2,000 doctors working across 65 locations.
Reading recently observed its 150th anniversary.
Tower Health President and CEO Clint Matthews said that Reading will remain the flagship of the system. “Bill will provide the executive oversight to enhance existing services and to continue our relentless pursuit of excellence in all we do.”
“They have an aggressive growth strategy,” Jennings noted, emphasizing that his move was the result of “a pull from Tower Health, not a push from Bridgeport Hospital. This is a significant growth opportunity for me.”
Talks with Tower began over the past winter, Jennings said, adding that a critical component of his new role will be to take Reading’s “standard of care, tradition and vision and spread it to the other hospitals that were acquired by Reading Hospital.”
Jennings called his eight years at Bridgeport “absolutely tremendous” in terms of revenue growth – an increase of 66 percent, to $25.7 million, over the course of his tenure, he said – quality of service and patient safety; the hospital has seen an 80 percent reduction in safety events over the past four years.
The outgoing Bridgeport executive said that the facility’s physicians’ engagement scores are in the 92nd percentile, “which is almost unheard of.”
“The cultural transformation (at Bridgeport) is probably what I’m most proud of,” Jennings continued. “The physicians, nurses and technicians all report a high level of job satisfaction, and I feel that definitely affects patient care. The patients can feel it.”
Though he said he was not consulted about appointing a successor, Jennings praised the choice of Ivy, announced by Yale New Haven Health CEO Marna Borgstrom and Newman Marsilius III, chair of the hospital board of trustees.
“Michael Ivy is supremely well qualified,” Jennings said. “He’s so well known by the staff and medical staff alike, and trusted by those people. There will be no interruption in the hospital’s service and performance – I can’t think of anybody better.”
For his part, Ivy said, “The journey Bill Jennings has taken us on for the last eight years has been remarkable. He truly transformed this organization through his unwavering commitment to patient-centered care and clinical quality. I will do my utmost to carry on the great strides forward that Bill’s leadership inspired.”
Jennings said he and his family had been unfamiliar with the Redding area until recently. “We actually just bought a house there last Friday,” he said, noting that its location is a 15-minute walk to Reading Hospital.