Health disparity might not have been a term Lloyd Dean, president and CEO of San Francisco-based Dignity Health, was familiar with as a child growing up in Muskegon, Mich. But it was something he quickly became aware of once he began attending school in a neighborhood more affluent than the one where he lived.
“I was always amazed when I would be talking with my friends at school and they were talking about going to dental appointments and needing to leave school early to get vaccinations,” Dean said. “That just was not heard of in my community.”
It was those early experiences that Dean said helped shape his view on healthcare. “I've said that because of the way I grew up, that if I ever had the chance to have an impact on healthcare, I felt that it was something that I wanted to do,” he said.
Now Dean, 63, stands as one of the industry's most influential people. A supporter of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, he counts President Barack Obama as one of his friends and is among a handful of people HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius regularly calls for advice, according to a 2013 Fortune magazine feature on Dean. Because of his accomplishments, Dean is one of Modern Healthcare's Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare for 2014, the fifth year for the biennial recognition program.
Since arriving in 2000 at what was then called Catholic Healthcare West, Dean is credited with leading a major corporate turnaround. He took over CHW at a time when it had suffered four straight years of operating losses totaling more than $800 million and brought it to profitability four years later. The system has stayed on track ever since. Now with more than 300 sites in more than 20 states—including hospitals; urgent- and occupational-care centers; imaging facilities; home health agencies; and primary-care clinics—Dignity is the fifth-largest not-for-profit health system in the country, with revenue totaling more than $10 billion in fiscal 2013.