MemorialCare announces new CEO for Long Beach hospitals

Following a national search by the board of directors, MemorialCare has announced Blair Kent as the new CEO of Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital.

With more than 20 years of health care leadership experience, Kent’s most recent position was CEO of Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City. The hospital is the largest of Intermountain Healthcare’s 33 facilities and the largest hospital in Utah.

Under Kent’s leadership, Intermountain was recognized with various awards and high rankings from third-party organizations, according to the announcement. It was also named an LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader in the National Healthcare Equality Index, earning a perfect 100 score for “building a culture of inclusion and equality.”

“I am honored to join MemorialCare and to have the opportunity to lead these two great hospitals into their next exciting chapter,” Kent said in the announcement. “MemorialCare is an innovative and nationally respected health system, and I look forward to continuing the long tradition of driving high quality care and value for our patients and our community for years to come.”

The extensive search for a new CEO began shortly after John Bishop unexpectedly announced his resignation in late July, when then-Chief Operating Officer Ike Mmeje also announced his resignation. Mmeje vacated his position in August, while Bishop stayed on during the search.

Kent’s first day on the job is Jan. 3, and three days later, after assisting in the transition, Bishop’s 13-year stint on the campus will end, according to hospital spokesperson Richele Steele.

Bishop first joined the Memorial team in 2009 as chief financial officer of the Long Beach campus. In 2015, he assumed the role of CEO.

The Bishop and Mmeje resignations came one week after the Southern California News Group published a story outlining a series of lapses in patient care that led to the deaths of two patients in as many months. Since the events, the hospital has been under investigation by several agencies and organizations, including the California Department of Public Health, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the state medical board, the Joint Commission, the California State Board of Pharmacy and the California Board of Registered Nursing.

Hospital officials have not linked the incident and subsequent investigations to the resignations.

The resignations also triggered a leadership restructuring at the campus, which was announced in October. The move created new positions across the campus, including a chief nursing executive, a chief strategy officer and a chief executive specifically for Miller Children’s.

While the search for a new CEO is over, Mmeje’s position remains filled by acting COO Helen Macfie. Kent will eventually assist in the search for a permanent COO but a timeline has not been set, according to Steele.

In the meantime, the health system is happy to have found its new Long Beach leader.

“We are thrilled to have Blair in the CEO role at our Long Beach campus,” Barry Arbuckle, president and CEO of MemorialCare, said in a statement. “Blair is an accomplished executive and proven healthcare leader.”

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Brandon Richardson is a business reporter, covering everything from real estate and healthcare to the airport and port to city hall and the economy. He is a Long Beach native who has been with the Business Journal since graduating from Long Beach City College in spring 2016 with an associate’s degree in journalism. He is an avid record collector and concert goer.
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