Wayne Sensor, who helped to pump up the financial muscles of Christus Schumpert Health System, Shreveport, La., in more than five years as top executive, is preparing to take on the challenge of leading another large, regional faith-based system, this time in the Midwest.
Sensor, chief executive and president of Christus Schumpert, a Catholic system owned by Dallas-based Christus Health, was recently appointed CEO of Alegent Health, Omaha, Neb. The eight-hospital system, the largest in the Omaha area, will bid farewell to outgoing CEO Charles Marr, who announced plans in September 2003 to step down in June.
In his new position, the 47-year-old Sensor will oversee Alegent's four metropolitan medical centers, four rural hospitals and 42 primary-care clinics in Nebraska and Iowa. Alegent employs 1,200 physicians and 7,500 workers.
Sensor, who "grew up" in faith-based healthcare, says Alegent's mission was especially important to him because it fits with his vision of community healthcare. "My experience in faith-based healthcare has been that many of us are drawn to this segment of healthcare delivery because it truly is a ministry," he says. "At the end of the day we have to run a business and balance our financial challenges, but we're really here to care for people."
Sensor says the system should be "exceptionally proud of the progress it has made" since being formed seven years ago. Sponsored by Catholic Health Initiatives and Immanuel Health Systems, which is affiliated with the Nebraska Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Alegent was created in 1996 by the consolidation of Bergan Mercy Health System and Immanuel Health System. Sensor says Alegent is financially strong and has invested considerably in its infrastructure and technology, including preparing for the August opening of 77-bed Alegent Health Lakeside Hospital, a $64 million digital hospital.
Sensor, who holds a master's degree in business administration, has nearly 20 years of experience leading major healthcare systems. He began his career in 1987 as an administrative liaison with the medical staff at Samaritan Health System in Clinton, Iowa, an acute-care hospital owned and operated by the Sisters of Mercy Health System. While there, he also served as vice president of marketing and planning for the health system. At the same time, Sensor served as interim administrator at Morrison (Ill.) Community Hospital. He joined Northeast Arkansas Rehabilitation Hospital in Jonesboro as CEO in 1992 and in 1997, he became CEO of Integris Bass Baptist Health Center in Enid, Okla.
Sensor says one of his top priorities at Alegent is to engage the system's medical staff in future strategic planning. "Hospitals across the U.S. are struggling with how to maintain solid physician relations in light of financial and regulatory pressures that are pushing us apart," he says. "I want to rigorously involve Alegent's physicians and stakeholders in the planning process ... because it's the physicians who ultimately are in touch with patients."
At three-hospital Christus Schumpert, Sensor worked on collaborative relationships among the system's 3,000 employees, 750 physicians and hospital patients that resulted in Christus Schumpert leading all Christus facilities in patient satisfaction for the past two years. While at Christus, Sensor also acquired and integrated two community hospitals and led the system to become only the fifth hospital in the U.S. selected for an affiliation with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Doug Brouillette, chief of the medical staff at Alegent Health Midlands Hospital, says Sensor has the energy and drive to continue Alegent's momentum. "He has exemplified his commitment to the health and well-being of the community through his dedication to patient satisfaction and quality care."