By KEN LEISER
Anthony R. Tersigni will retire Dec. 31 as chief executive of Ascension after leading the St. Louis-based system for more than 15 years.
Ascension Board Chair Stephen M. Dufilho announced Tersigni's retirement plan on March 21, adding that the board has initiated a search for his replacement. Ascension is one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the U.S, with more than 2,600 sites of care, including 151 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities, across 21 states and the District of Columbia.
"Tony Tersigni has become a legend in health care leadership during his career," said Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, CHA's president and chief executive officer. "The scope of his influence in health care, and particularly Catholic health care is incredible."
Tersigni was promoted to president and chief executive of Ascension Health in 2004 and became an advocate for the Catholic health care ministry in the U.S. and internationally. He holds a doctorate in leadership and organizational development from Western Michigan University.
Under his leadership, and starting before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Ascension has promoted 100 percent access to health care and insurance for every person in the U.S.
In a 2012 restructuring, Tersigni was named the first president and chief executive of Ascension Health Alliance, a holding company that housed Ascension Health and subsidiaries that would include a venture capital fund and other ancillary enterprises. That design was intended to bring in new streams of revenue as payers and providers began to shift from fee-for-service reimbursement to value-based payments.
Ascension was created in 1999 through the merger of two large Catholic health systems and over the years it merged with other Catholic health systems. It has entered partnerships and alliances with nonprofit and for-profit companies.
In 2016, Ascension announced it was reorganizing its operating structure into a health care division and a "solutions division." The latter included Ascension subsidiaries that deliver services to Ascension facilities and to other organization. At the same time, it announced a systemwide rebranding effort aimed at creating a nationally recognized brand.
Tersigni said the effort continued years of work to make health care delivery more efficient; safer, with replicable outcomes; and easier to navigate for patients.
In January, Ascension announced the immediate elimination of the solutions and health care division construct, as well as the departures of three top Ascension executives. Joseph R. Impicciche was given the role of Ascension president and chief operating officer at that time.
Tersigni said in January that the changes create a "more integrated, flatter organization that supports aligned accountability, nimble decision-making and empowered teams."
Sr. Carol praised Tersigni for his support of Catholic health care and his wisdom, particularly during key moments leading up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act in March 2010, when he was CHA's chair-elect. Tersigni chaired the CHA board from mid-2010 to mid-2011. He has served as president of the International Confederation of Catholic Health Care Institutions.
"Tony has always been a great friend to so many in Catholic health care and someone who could always be counted on to be willing to help deal with challenges, large and small," Sr. Carol said.
Following his retirement, Tersigni will continue as a member of the executive committee of the Ascension health care investment fund.
In announcing Tersigni's decision to retire, Dufilho described Tersigni as a "vibrant servant leader" through a time of significant change in U.S. health care.
In a statement, St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson lauded Tersigni for his leadership and for remaining true to the vision and legacy of Ascension's founding religious congregations.
"Dr. Tersigni's work at Ascension continues to promote our mission of serving the most vulnerable of our population while also successfully creating a fully integrated health ministry across the nation," Archbishop Carlson wrote.
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