VCU is preparing to oust its health system’s CEO

Virginia Commonwealth University is arranging for the departure of health system CEO Dr. Art Kellermann, three sources told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

On Monday, the university notified Kellermann that he won’t continue as the health system’s top administrator. VCU gave him the option to resign, but it’s unclear if he will do so.

A spokesperson for the university said Kellermann is out of the office, but the spokesperson did not elaborate. Dr. Marlon Levy is the acting health sciences senior vice president and CEO of VCU Health.

Employees were notified on Monday. Kellermann declined to comment.

VCU announced it will hold a joint meeting of the university board of visitors and health system board of directors on Thursday. A majority of both boards is required to fire the CEO.

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Kellermann oversaw the health system during a tumultuous period in which the hospital became overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, nurses departed and the university was dealt a financial blow.

But it also grew during his tenure, opening a new downtown building, continuing construction on another and launching a new electronic medical record.

VCU Health, which employs more than 13,000 people across 70 locations, hired Kellermann as its leader in July 2020. In late 2021, the omicron wave brought the highest influx of patients since the pandemic began, wearing staffers thin. Nurses left in droves, forcing VCU Health to rely on more expensive travel nurses.

Increased labor costs were a major contributor to VCU Health finishing the 2022 fiscal year with a $56 million budget deficit, about 2% of its annual budget. Health systems across the country have faced similar financial woes.

But VCU also had moments of major progress. In December, it opened the nearly $400 million adult outpatient pavilion. Around the same time, it transitioned to a new electronic medical record, Epic. By using the same software as Bon Secours and hospitals across the country, VCU doctors can now easily see the medical history of patients who have visited Bon Secours hospitals, and vice versa.

VCU also moved forward on the construction of a 16-story children’s hospital tower scheduled to open in the spring.

A number of executives have come and gone from VCU Health in the past two years. Dr. Peter Buckley, formerly dean of the School of Medicine, resigned last year. He had served as interim CEO before Kellermann came on. Kellermann replaced Dr. Marsha Rappley, who held the top job for about four years.

Buckley’s departure came days after chief information officer Susan Steagall said she would leave.

To fill out the health system’s administration, VCU hired Michael Elliott as chief operating officer, James Siegel as chief financial officer and Michael Roussos as president of VCU Medical Center.

Kellermann came to VCU from the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Maryland, where he was dean. His specialty is emergency medicine.

VCU President Michael Rao oversees both the university and its health system.

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