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Leadership change update

Dr. Marlon Levy

Dear colleagues,

This evening, the VCU Health Board of Directors and VCU Board of Visitors accepted the resignation of Dr. Art Kellermann as senior vice president for Health Sciences and CEO of VCU Health. 

His tenure here was marked by COVID challenges, and I appreciate how he, our leadership team and each and every one of you helped us manage such difficult times. 

I know you join me, and our boards, in thanking Dr. Kellermann. I have included a message from Dr. Kellermann at the conclusion of this email.

Interim leadership

I am pleased that Dr. Marlon Levy is serving as interim senior vice president and CEO, effective now. Dr. Levy currently serves as Chief Medical Officer for VCU Medical Center, chair of the Division of Transplant Surgery and director of Hume-Lee Transplant Center.

Dr. Levy is an experienced, trusted leader who excels at bringing people and teams together for a common cause. He will guide us through this period by focusing on our people – people in the communities we serve and the people on our talented, dedicated teams.

Every day I say that the needs of students and patients come first. This is a statement about our values, and our mission. 

Our future

People, climate and culture inside our health system matters more now than it ever has before. We have tremendous opportunities ahead of us; for instance, we will open our magnificent new Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU patient tower next year. 

It is your tireless skill and care that make all of our successes possible. We are the unmatchable organization we are because of you. 

We also face significant financial challenges, as do health systems across the country. Dr. Levy has the board’s and my support in this important leadership role. We will share information about what is next in the coming weeks.

In times like these, it is important to focus on our healthcare mission – provide outstanding, life-saving care to everyone who needs us. 

Thank you for all of the ways in which each of you on this talented team support our amazing institution. Your compassion and dedication will carry us into the future.

Sincerely,

Michael Rao, President, VCU and VCU Health

A message from Dr. Kellerman is below:

To the students, residents, trainees, faculty, staff and leaders of VCU’s Health  Sciences Schools, College of Health Professions and the VCU Health System: 

At the request of President Rao, I have decided to step down from my role as  Senior Vice President and CEO of VCU Health System.  No words can express how  grateful I am for the privilege of leading VCU’s Health Science Schools and VCU Health, to advance their values and vision, and work with so many amazing people. 

Serving alongside you has been one of the greatest honors of my life. When I  arrived in October 2020, the organization had navigated the first and second waves  of COVID-19 by implementing a remarkable series of rapid-cycle improvements in  ICU design, patient management, conduct of clinical trials and infection control.  But the worst was yet to come. 

You not only met the challenge of that first brutal winter wave, it was followed by  Delta, then Omicron, then other variants of COVID. You beat them all - not only in  VCU Medical Center’s ER, MRICU and other inpatient units, but in CMH, VCU  Tappahannock, our many ambulatory clinics and in the communities we serve. 

As amazing as these achievements are, you did much more. 

While battling COVID around the clock, you also delivered lifesaving care to  patients with complex trauma, major burns, cancer, cardiovascular disease, organ  failure, strokes, high-risk childbirths, extreme prematurity and other pediatric  illnesses and conditions. And on top of that, you successfully pulled off a stunning  series of “big lifts,” including opening our high-rise Adult Outpatient Pavilion,  nearly completing CHOR’s amazing “Wonder Tower,” in-boarding VCU  Tappahannock Hospital and rapidly undertaking three massive IT  implementations: a new timekeeping system, a new enterprise resource planning  system (Workday) and a new electronic health record (Epic). 

No health system in America did so much, so well, in so little time. 

VCU’s Health Sciences Schools and College of Health Professions also met the  challenge by pivoting to on-line learning within days and embracing other educational innovations that enabled them to graduate adaptive and resilient  students on time. Our scientists continued to produce outstanding research in our laboratories, clinics, hospitals and  communities across the Commonwealth and beyond. 

Last year, VCU’s Health Sciences set all-time records for philanthropy, grant  revenue and enrolling patients in clinical trials. 

Now, VCU Health must overcome the same financial headwinds that are  battering hospitals and academic health systems across the country. The task is complicated by a nationwide shortage of nurses and other healthcare workers, a war for talent and rapidly rising costs for drugs, equipment and supplies. The good news is that VCU Health is heavily investing in its home team to stabilize its workforce and decrease reliance on costly staffing agencies. I am confident that the health system will succeed because of you. 

I am extremely proud to have been a member of this team. I know, from first hand experience, that VCU Health and our health sciences schools have the best  nurses, techs, doctors, researchers, staff and trainees in the region. You choose  to learn and work here because you get to do things no other health system in  our area can do. Be proud of who you are and where you work. 

I will miss working with the exceptional healthcare leadership team we’ve rebuilt  over the past year, and the equally amazing deans, chairs and center directors who guide VCU health sciences’ academic and research missions. While I will no  longer be part of your team, my wife Leila and I will look for other ways to serve the community and support the amazing work you do. 

My respect for your accomplishments and your commitment is unshaken. I wish each and every of you the greatest success in the months and years to come. Farewell.  

Respectfully, 

Art Kellermann, MD, MPH