Novation, the joint purchasing company of the VHA and University HealthSystem Consortium alliances, was rocked by the unexpected resignation last week of its first president and chief executive officer, James Hersma.
Hersma, 50, was the second high-level official to leave Novation in recent months. Jay Ryan, one of Hersma's first hires and a senior vice president, left in October.
Hersma said he was proud of his accomplishments at Novation but preferred working for a for-profit company. He said that before resigning, he had asked himself, "At 50 years old, is this the job for me to end my business career in, a culture that's just different" from what I'm used to? "The answer was no."
Before joining Novation, Hersma was an executive at American Hospital Supply, Baxter International and a Tulsa, Okla., software company called CIS Technologies.
After Hersma resigned, Novation immediately named Mark McKenna, 50, president. He had been a senior vice president at Novation and was second-in-command to Hersma.
"We think we have the bench strength to move ahead," said C. Thomas Smith, president and CEO of Irving, Texas-based VHA.
"No one was expecting that Jim would step out of his role in such a short period of time," said Robert Baker, president and CEO of Oak Brook, Ill.-based UHC. Both Baker and Smith said McKenna would keep Novation moving ahead without missing a beat.