Former Ascension CEO, the first to lead the health system, passes away

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Former Ascension Well being CEO Donald Brennan—who helped kind what grew to become the nation’s largest Catholic well being system—has handed away at age 83.

Along with main St. Louis-based Ascension till 2001, Brennan held the highest posts at Windfall in Washington, Group Well being and co-chaired a Washington state well being fee. He handed away peacefully at his dwelling in Bothell, Wash. on Feb. 12.

Brennan was initially employed as a marketing consultant to assist plan the merger between the 2 Catholic techniques that shaped Ascension. After spending a 12 months on the undertaking, he was named CEO of the brand new well being system, stated his son, Steve Brennan, who serves as Nashville, Tenn.-based Change Healthcare’s senior supervisor of state well being coverage.

Ascension’s present president and CEO, Joe Impicciche, stated in an announcement that Ascension owes a debt of gratitude to Brennan for his “visionary management and dedication to our mission.”

“As our first CEO, Don was a key chief within the collaborative course of to determine the mission and values that proceed to information Ascension right this moment,” Impicciche stated. “Our ideas and prayers are with Don and his household.”

When Brennan retired as Ascension’s CEO in 2001, the well being system had $6 billion in annual income and 71 owned or affiliated hospitals. It has since grown even greater. Ascension was a 150-hospital system with north of $25 billion in annual income as of June 30, 2020.

Brennan began his profession within the finance division on the College of Colorado Medical Heart in Boulder, Colo., the place we labored from 1976 to 1980. He then grew to become the primary non-religious CEO for what was then often called the Sisters of Windfall Well being System.

He left Windfall in 1993 when he was appointed by Washington state’s then-Gov. Mike Lowry to co-chair the Washington Well being Companies Fee. Established by the 1993 Well being Companies Act, the group labored to formulate a complete healthcare reform technique.

“Once we speak about actually placing your cash the place your mouth is, he believed in healthcare reform sufficient to step away from his job to make it a actuality,” Steve Brennan stated.

After Washington lawmakers repealed a lot of the Well being Companies Act, Brennan stepped down from the fee and have become CEO of the St. Louis-based Daughters of Charity Nationwide Well being System in 1995. Throughout his tenure, the well being system merged with the Sisters of St. Joseph Well being System of Ann Arbor, Mich. to turn out to be Ascension.

Initially, Daughters of Charity had employed Brennan as a marketing consultant to held plan its merger with the Sisters of St. Joseph, Steve Brennan stated. After spending virtually a 12 months designing the merger to create Ascension, he grew to become Ascension’s first CEO.

After retiring from Ascension in 2001, Brennan served on the board of Swedish Well being Companies from 2003 to 2010.

Steve Brennan stated he is spoken lately with numerous his dad’s former colleagues, who describe his management type as very collaborative.

“He was a really humble particular person and was very cautious to present credit score elsewhere and to essentially attain out to specialists and folks in his group to be leaders, whether or not casual or formal,” he stated.

Brennan, who additionally served on the board of the Catholic Well being Affiliation, grew up in Denver because the youngest of 5 youngsters. He earned a bachelor’s diploma in accounting and a Grasp of Enterprise Administration from the College of Colorado.

All through Brennan’s life, his son stated he remained devoted to his household, which included his spouse of practically 60 years, Kathy, 4 sons and 11 grandchildren. He liked scuba diving, {golfing} and operating.

“He was simply very a lot a champion of life stability and actually educated all of us on how essential that’s,” Steve Brennan stated.

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