Sandra Bruce, president and CEO of Chicago-based Presence Health, will retire at year-end after leading the health system since it was formed through a 2011 merger.
Bruce, 69, became CEO of Presence after the merger of Provena Health and Resurrection Health Care, where she was president and CEO. Presence is the largest Catholic healthcare system based in Illinois.
Before working at Resurrection, Bruce spent her career at several public and faith-based hospitals. She was the first female CEO to be appointed at Berrien General Hospital in Berrien Center, Mich., and at age 29 was also the youngest.
Bruce said in an interview that she has been attracted to public and religious healthcare organizations because they share a common goal: to ensure that all patients are cared for, regardless of their means.
“There's a deep desire to make sure that we are assisting people who are on the margin,” she said. “Whether you're in a public hospital or a faith-based hospital, everyone will have equal access to quality care.”
But proposed cuts to Medicaid in Illinois could endanger safety net hospitals and others who care for the poor, Bruce said. She expressed concern that Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner may not have enough faith in the accountable care entities formed by the previous administration to mitigate Medicaid costs.
“These are huge dramatic moves that we are making with Medicaid, and we have to make sure that the governor's administration understands the implications of those moves,” she said. “They go beyond cutting dollars.”