Paul Pawlak, who has led Silver Cross Hospital for nearly 30 years, is retiring next year.
Pawlak, 67, notably moved his hospital from Joliet, Ill., about four miles east to New Lenox in 2012 when the county was one of the fastest-growing in the nation, then navigated the southwest suburban hospital through a housing bust.
A search is underway for his successor, Silver Cross said in a statement announcing Pawlak's retirement, effective Oct. 1, 2017.
“I want to extend my sincere appreciation to our board members for their support for the past 26 years,” Pawlak, 64, said in the statement. “Because we have always believed strongly in attracting and retaining the best and the brightest workforce, I am quite confident of Silver Cross' continued success.”
Pawlak has fiercely guarded the hospital's independence. It's one of the few stand-alone medical centers left in the Chicago area, a region with nearly 100 hospitals that is quickly consolidating under the financial pressures of Obamacare. Insurers and government payors now pay doctors to focus on preventative care, a tough and expensive feat that has fueled affiliations and mergers between health systems.
Under Pawlak's watch, Silver Cross hatched deals with prominent health systems including University of Chicago Medicine, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. That helped bring top-notch specialists to patients closer to home (Silver Cross is about 40 miles from Chicago) while helping the community hospital remain on its own.
Silver Cross also has an affiliation with Advocate Health Care, the largest health care system in the state.