CEO of VCU Health resigns under pressure from leadership
Dr. Art Kellermann, CEO of Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, resigned late Thursday under pressure from university leadership. In an emergency meeting, the university’s board of visitors and the health system’s board of directors voted unanimously to accept Kellermann’s resignation and to name Dr. Marlon Levy as interim CEO.
Kellermann resigned because he was asked to, he said in an interview. On Monday, he met with VCU president Michael Rao, who told Kellermann his services were no longer required. For the past two years, Kellermann oversaw a government-affiliated health system that employs roughly 13,000 people across 70 locations in central Virginia.
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Ben Dendy, head of the board of visitors, declined to say why Kellermann was asked to resign. In a statement, Rao thanked Kellermann for his work, leading VCU during a pandemic that strained staff, led nurses to leave and caused a financial crunch on the health system.
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“His tenure was marked by COVID challenges, and I appreciate how he, our leadership team and every member of our team helped us manage such difficult times,” Rao said.
Kellermann added that he’s proud of the work of VCU Health employees during such challenging times.
“It was a team effort from the moment I got there until the moment I departed,” Kellermann said. “It will be a team effort going forward, I just won’t be leading it.”
Levy was previously chief medical officer for the VCU Medical Center, chair of the division of transplant surgery and head of the Hume-Lee transplant center. On Thursday, the board approved a $50,000 increase to his salary.
He joined VCU in 2015 from Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, where he was surgical director of transplantation. Rao said Levy excels at bringing people together for a common cause.
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On Tuesday, he wrote to staffers, thanking Rao for his confidence, calling it a privilege to be offered the position.
“We will continue to single-mindedly deliver on and advance our mission by putting patients and students first, as we’ve always done,” Levy said.
Kellermann, an emergency medicine physician, joined VCU in 2020 from the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Maryland, where he served as dean.
Numerous executives at the health system have left in the past two years, including Dr. Peter Buckley, who was dean of the School of Medicine. He resigned in 2021 and was interim CEO before Kellermann was hired. Kellermann replaced Dr. Marsha Rappley, who led the health system for four years. VCU also lost chief information officer Susan Steagall last year.
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Since Kellermann was hired, the health system added a new chief operating officer, Michael Elliott; a new chief financial officer, James Siegel and a president of VCU Medical Center, Michael Roussos.
Kellermann said VCU is in the midst of a turnaround, and turnarounds are never without some drama. He said the health care landscape has changed dramatically in the past year, as competition from Bon Secours and HCA Healthcare has increased, labor costs have soared and insurers have made late payments.