Local Health Care Concerns Bring on Presidents to Guide Expansions

Two local health care companies this month announced new president positions to guide their ambitious expansion efforts.
On June 14, Duarte-based cancer research and treatment institution City of Hope announced it had hired Philip Okala, chief operating officer at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, as the organization’s first system president. In his role, Okala will be responsible for City of Hope’s portfolio of clinical care and research entities.

In recent years City of Hope has grown far beyond its flagship campus in Duarte. It has expanded its clinical network in Southern California, and in 2016 acquired Phoenix-based Translational Genomics Research Institute. City of Hope is also investing $1 billion on a cancer treatment and hospital complex in Irvine. The first building, the Lennar Cancer Treatment Center, is set to open later this year; an inpatient hospital building is planned to open in 2025.

In December, the organization announced it was acquiring Boca Raton, Florida-based Cancer Treatment Centers of America in a deal reportedly worth about $400 million. Okala, who is scheduled to join City of Hope in September, will oversee all of these facilities and operations, as well as the medical foundation and clinical and research operations. He will report to Chief Executive Robert Stone.

“His (Okala’s) expertise will be immensely valuable as we further our goal to democratize cancer care and create a system that develops the next generation of research discoveries, treatment and care and makes them accessible to more patients, families and communities across the country,” Stone said in the hiring announcement.

Okala said this broader approach convinced him to leave the University of Pennsylvania.
“City of Hope’s vision to make cancer care more accessible to more people across the country is part of what really attracted me and got me excited about the opportunity,” he said.

Just two days after the Okala announcement, Santa Monica-based TigerConnect, a clinical collaboration platform, on June 16 announced the appointment of Melissa Bell as its first president. She began her duties on June 1 and is responsible for sales, marketing, revenue operations, solution design and clinical consulting; she reports directly to Chief Executive Brad Brooks, TigerConnect uses a cloud-based communications and workflow platform that enables doctors, medical specialists, nurses, home health care providers, patients and administrative personnel to share information such as appointments, diagnoses, medication prescriptions and usage, as well as procedures performed.

Bell is the latest in a series of hires TigerConnect made in recent months as it embarks on what it calls “aggressive growth” in the second half of this year. The growth strategy stems from a $300 million investment announced Jan. 11 from New York private equity firm Vista Equity Partners. Among the other recent hires: a new chief revenue officer and a vice president of strategic programs.



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