John Bluford, the Kansas City, Mo., health system CEO lauded for profitably running safety-net hospitals while implementing holistic healthcare strategies like food markets, announced that he will retire in July.
Bluford, who turns 65 on May 1, will step down as president and CEO of Truman Medical Centers effective July 18. He has worked 15 years at the Kansas City health system and is credited with a financial and operational turnaround of its two hospitals and outpatient sites, which serve a population that receives a disproportionate share of charity care compared with other hospitals.
Bluford served as chairman of the American Hospital Association in 2011 and has also chaired the Missouri Hospital Association and the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems. Last year Modern Healthcare awarded him with its CEO IT Achievement Award
, and he appeared on the magazine's Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare
list in 2010 and 2012. In 2013 he received the Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Award from the National Center for Healthcare Leadership.
Before arriving at Truman, Bluford was CEO of Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. He started his career in 1972 at Chicago's Cook County Hospital as an evening administrator.
A search committee has been convened to find Bluford's successor, who will be named before his retirement in July. A statement from Truman said internal candidates will be considered before the committee broadens the search nationally.
“During his tenure as CEO, John's unwavering vision and extraordinary commitment for TMC to provide high-quality healthcare, better for everyone, has led us to new heights never before imagined,” said Truman Board Chairwoman Peggy Dunn.
In Kansas City, Bluford is known for his work supporting the Hospital Hill Economic Development Corp., a not-for-profit working to improve conditions for people who live in the “food desert” around Truman's Hospital Hill campus. The system has held weekly fresh produce markets at its campuses and a mobile produce market brings food to the city's urban core.
Friday's announcement from Truman said Bluford intends to continue supporting the effort to bring a new grocery store to the area—an initiative he has said will help fight chronic conditions like diabetes, obesity
Bluford intends to remain in the Kansas City area and work on the Bluford Healthcare Leadership Institute, which he founded in 2013. “It has been an honor and privilege to serve the patients of TMC and the Kansas City and Jackson County community,” he said.Follow Joe Carlson on Twitter: @MHJCarlson