March 14, 2012 | last updated April 19, 2012 2:04 pm

O'Brien To Retire As UMass Memorial CEO

UMass Memorial Health Care announced today that president and CEO John G. O'Brien intends to retire next January

O'Brien said in a statement that he wanted to announce his intent so the board of directors can conduct a comprehensive search for his successor.

O'Brien, who assumed the top job at Massachusetts' largest not-for-profit health system nearly 10 years ago, has overseen a number of projects during his tenure, a number of which UMass listed in their statement today.

They include implementation of new technologies that led to reductions in mortalities for critical patients, construction projects at UMass Medical Center and affiliate hospitals, expanding services with ambulatory facilities in Milford and Southborough and through physician practices in Harvard, Grafton, Sterling and elsewhere, and increasing medical staffing by 25 percent.

O'Brien's announcement comes as the health system is facing a contraction. Its 2011 surplus was $27.9 million, well below the $85.6 million it earned in 2010.

The reduction was due to investment losses as well as a deficit in its previously profitable Health Ventures business.

UMass announced the elimination of 150 full time positions and other cost cutting measures in February in an effort to cut $50 million in expenses.

UMass is seeking to sell off some of its less profitable business lines, including its hospital labs outreach business and its Home Health & Hospice.

David Bennett, chairman of the system's board of trustees, praised O'Brien for his service.

"He has ably led UMass Memorial through a period of tremendous and fundamental change, and his skills, experience, and wisdom will be missed," Bennett said.

Medical School Chancellor Michael Collins called O'Brien a "dynamic and creative leader at a time when all health care organizations are being asked to do more with less."

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