Kevin Lofton said his priorities as head of the American Hospital Association board of trustees would include improving patient safety, increasing financial transparency at hospitals and reducing health disparities. The AHA last week named Lofton, 50, chairman-elect-designate, meaning he will become chairman in 2007.
Lofton, president and chief executive officer at Catholic Health Initiatives, Denver, will be only the second black person to hold the top AHA post, after Carolyn Lewis, who was chairwoman in 2000. Lewis died in 2002 of pancreatic cancer.
Lofton, a native of Beaumont, Texas, championed universal healthcare in testimony to a House subcommittee in 2004, saying: "The biggest problem remains unsolved -- too many uninsured people, too many persons without access to healthcare in an appropriate setting. The solution is universal healthcare coverage."
He told Modern Healthcare that better health information technology and insurance coverage also would top his agenda.
Lofton heads the diversity and presidential search committees at the Catholic Health Association and is a trustee for Ascension Health, the nation's largest Catholic health system. He was an AHA trustee from 2002 to 2004. Lofton said diversity in executive leadership can lead to better patient care and operations. "There is clearly a business case for diversity," he said.
Lofton will succeed Richard Umbdenstock, president and CEO of Providence Services in Spokane, Wash., who will chair the AHA board in 2006. George Lynn, president and CEO of AtlantiCare, Egg Harbor, N.J., is currently chairman.