April 05. 2012 1:00PM - Last modified: April 05. 2012 1:52PM

Froedtert CEO Petasnick to step down

The Froedtert Health board of directors announced today its longtime chief executive officer, William Petasnick, will step down from his post as of July 1 after 19 years at the helm.

The board also announced that Petasnick will be succeeded by Catherine Jacobson, currently president of Froedtert Health. She will become president and CEO of Froedtert Health on July 1. Petasnick will remain on the board of directors as vice chairman.
Petasnick and the board began a succession planning process more than 18 months ago, and today's announcement culminates the process. Petasnick will leave Froedtert Health after 19 years of dedicated service to the nonprofit health system.
"As chair of Froedtert Health's board of directors, I'm excited about this news on two levels," said David Lubar. "Over the next few months, we will have the opportunity to honor and celebrate Bill's strong and visionary leadership of Froedtert Health. He has made invaluable contributions to our organization, the community, the state of Wisconsin and to the national dialogue about the need for health care reform through his board leadership roles at the American Hospital Association. Second, we eagerly look forward to working with Cathy as the health system's president and CEO. She too is a visionary, and has already impressed us with her capabilities as a smart and strategic leader."
Lubar added, "In today's uncertain economic environment and with all of the changes facing the health care field, it's important to maintain momentum when leadership changes occur inside an organization as complex as a large integrated health system. By sharing his plans to step down, Bill allowed the board time to thoughtfully select a new president and create an opportunity for Cathy to work closely with Bill for more than a year. I'm pleased Bill has agreed to continue on the board of directors as vice chairman so we will continue to benefit from his knowledge and experience."
Petasnick said, "I have been fortunate to work with a highly effective management team and an outstanding board of directors. Working together, we have accomplished much. It is a source of great pride to see Froedtert Hospital, in partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin, become one of the leading academic medical centers in the country.
"I take satisfaction knowing we have put in place an effective leadership transition plan and that the stride to achieving our long-term vision will not be broken. Cathy Jacobson, as president and CEO, is ready to lead the transformation needed to a more integrated system of care and I am pleased to be in a position to support her as a board member," Petasnick said.
Petasnick intends to stay active in the health care policy arena, serving on public and private boards, working with other organizations to help them improve their strategic performance and continuing as a strong advocate for health care reform. For example, Petasnick is dedicating some of his time to the Strategic Health Perspectives (SHP) Thought Leadership Team, a product of Harris Interactive, the market research company.
Petasnick joined Froedtert Hospital in 1993 as Milwaukee County was grappling with significant and unsustainable deficits at its county hospital. Petasnick worked closely with Milwaukee County leaders to change the model of care, with Milwaukee County becoming a purchaser of care and Froedtert Hospital expanding to a full-service academic medical center in partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin.
On December 21, 1995, the day Milwaukee County Hospital closed its doors, Froedtert Hospital purchased the county hospital's assets, doubled in size and budget, and added 1,000 staff to its ranks.
Froedtert Hospital flourished under the new model, growing from about 10,000 hospital admissions in 1995 to almost 18,000 the next year. In 2011, Froedtert Health's annual inpatient admissions exceeded 41,500.
Petasnick led the development of Froedtert Health in 2001, when Community Memorial Hospital in Menomonee Falls joined with Froedtert Hospital. In 2008, St. Joseph's Hospital, West Bend, and the West Bend Clinic joined the system. In 2011, Froedtert Health purchased a large physician group in Menomonee Falls, bringing the health system's staff to nearly 9,000, including 137 employed physicians with clinics in 32 locations.
Froedtert & The Medical College provide an additional 1 million patient visits annually at the 57 clinics located on the academic medical center campus.
When Petasnick began his career, the organization consisted of a half hospital, with services split between the county hospital and Froedtert Hospital, and annual revenues of $140 million. Today the health system's annual revenues total more than $1.2 billion.
"Under Bill's leadership, Froedtert Health has grown rapidly," Lubar noted. "While growth is important, it's not the primary source of pride for Bill and his staff. Froedtert Health has become a unique academic-community partnership, pairing community-based care with eastern Wisconsin's only academic medical center, Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin."
Lubar added, "With Bill at the helm, Froedtert Health has been a leader in patient satisfaction. Milwaukee consumers have chosen Froedtert Hospital as the most preferred hospital for the past seven years, US News and World Report ranked Froedtert Hospital best in metro Milwaukee, and it was the only adult hospital to make the national 'best' list. Its cancer care is internationally known, attracting patients from throughout the world."
Jacobson came to Froedtert Health in 2010 after 14 years with Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, where she guided the organization through long-term strategic planning while building innovative partnerships with other health care providers and insurers. In June 2011, she was promoted to president of Froedtert Health, assuming responsibility for the overall operations of the health system while continuing to oversee long-term strategic and financial efforts for the health system.