Chester River Health System Announces Appointment of New President

The Board of Directors of Chester River Health System (CRHS) announced the appointment of James E. Ross, FACHE, an experienced leader of community and specialty hospitals, to succeed Jeffrey L. Johnson, FACHE, as president of the health system. The transfer of leadership at Chester River is set for January 18, 2010. Johnson, who has headed CRHS since 2008, will assume a new position as vice president of corporate planning for the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), the parent organization of CRHS.

“My goal in coming to Chester River was to transition the health system successfully as it became part of UMMS. Now I look forward to returning to planning, which has been my longtime career focus,” said Johnson, who served as senior VP of system development and external operations for Shore Health System, Easton, before coming to Chester River.

Ross has served since 1994 as president and CEO of the James Lawrence Kernan Hospital, a specialty orthopedic and rehabilitation hospital in Baltimore that is also a member of UMMS. “Although I was not actively seeking another position, the privilege of leading a community hospital in a location as special as the Upper Eastern Shore was an opportunity I could not let pass,” Ross said. “I know how much this community values its hospital and its physicians and how vital a role they play in the life of the community.”

In announcing the Ross appointment, Wayne L. Gardner, Sr., chairman of the CRHS Board, welcomed him as a multi-talented hospital leader who has demonstrated both exceptional management and people skills. In addition to his current position at Kernan, Ross has served as chief executive officer at University Specialty Hospital and Montebello Rehabilitation Hospital, both in Baltimore. His health care career also includes service at the Shock Trauma Center of the University of Maryland Medical Center and at Saint Joseph Hospital in Lancaster, PA. Ross earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Baltimore; an MBA in health care administration from what is now Loyola University Maryland; and, the Fellow certification of the American College of Healthcare Executives. Gardner said that Ross’s experience working with community-based physicians in private practice and with academic-based physicians would serve Chester River well since both types of physician practices will be important to the health systems future.

Ross described his leadership style as hands-on, collaborative and inclusive. At Kernan Hospital, he noted, he is on a first-name basis with most staff members, the result of his belief in managing by being a visible presence in all areas of the hospital and at all hours of the day and night. Just as important as being visible to employees is being active and visible in the community, Ross added.