University Hospitals and Health Centers named chief financial officer Doug Strong as the medical system’s new interim chief executive officer Wednesday, after Larry Warren retired from the post last week.

Jess Cox

As interim CEO, Strong said he plans “to fulfill the mission of the hospitals and health centers, and that is first and foremost to provide high-quality and safe patient care, primarily to the citizens of the state of Michigan.”

While Strong will officially begin his duties on Oct. 1, Robert Kelch, executive vice president for medical affairs, said the nationwide search to find a permanent CEO may take six to nine months.

“The University of Michigan’s hospitals rank amongst the very, very best,” Kelch said. “We’re on the honor roll of best hospitals, according to U.S. News and World Report. We’re always trying to improve, and that’s what we expect the new director to do.”

Kelch said he has confidence that Strong will serve as an effective CEO.

“Doug has served the health system very well in several roles as interim associate vice president, interim chief financial officer and permanent chief financial officer,” Kelch said. “He’s well prepared to serve as interim CEO.”

Medical School Dean Allen Lichter said in a statement about Strong’s appointment:

“Doug has been an excellent CFO and has worked well with all the parties in the Health System. The Medical School looks forward to continuing this relationship.”

Strong has a deep background in business operations of college medical facilities. Before coming to Michigan, he served at the University of Chicago as chief financial officer and associate dean of the Pritzker School of Medicine and the Biological Sciences Division.

In 1998, the University hired Strong, and later gave him the permanent position of chief financial officer at UMHHC in 2004.

Strong received his M.B.A. in health care administration from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, while also attaining a Masters of Arts degree from the Pennsylvania’s School of Arts and Sciences.

Tom Marks, UMHHC’s director of accounting and reimbursement services, will assume Strong’s duties as CFO while Strong presides as CEO.

Strong said he has yet to consider becoming a candidate to permanently assume the role of UMHHC’s CEO. But he said his job as CFO was a satisfying position.

“It’s an excellent role in an excellent organization both within the University of Michigan hospitals and health centers and health system, which also includes the medical school and M-CARE,” Strong said of his CFO position. “I’ve enjoyed my collaboration with senior leaders in the hospitals and health centers.”

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