Will new CEO accelerate Hopkins’ pace in D.C.?

It’s been a year since Johns Hopkins Medicine acquired Sibley Memorial Hospital in D.C., and more than two years since it added Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. But by most accounts in the local health care world, the Baltimore-based system has made relatively few waves since joining the Washington-area market.

That might change in 2012, when at least two key leadership changes are coming. We already knew that Edward Miller, CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Sibley’s longtime CEO, Robert Sloan, are both retiring in July.

But on Monday, Hopkins unveiled Miller’s replacement: Dr. Paul Rothman, currently dean of Carver School of Medicine in Iowa. Rothman will take over in July, around the time Sloan’s replacement comes on as well.

Whether these changes will actually trigger any sudden strategic moves is purely speculative.

But the looming transition is one possible explanation for why Suburban and Sibley still largely operate the way they always have. Sure, the Hopkins blue-and-yellow branding is in place, and Johns Hopkins Community Physicians is opening a few new clinics, but doctors, vendors and other community members say they see little evidence of any strategic shifts or real changes in day-to-day business.

A new man at the top could open the spigot for more Hopkins action around here. But Rothman will have plenty to occupy his attention, much more than just day-to-day health care in Montgomery County and the District.

As CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, Rothman will oversee a $5 billion enterprise that includes its research efforts, international ventures and comparatively straightforward network of hospitals.

That hospital network — known as Johns Hopkins Health System — is directly overseen by President Ronald Peterson, who reports directly to the CEO. Both Peterson and Suburban Hospital CEO Brian Gragnolati, who is senior vice president for the system, will remain in place.

For his part, Gragnolati has declined several interview requests this year seeking an update on Hopkins’ activity in Washington. Another such request is pending.


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