Modern Healthcare issued a call for nominations for its 23rd annual Up & Comers recognition program on May 4 and ran a series of advertisements soliciting nominations through the July 3 submission deadline. This year, we received 139 nominations, up from last year's 134 nominations. An editorial review board composed of the magazine's senior editors reviewed the nominations and selected the 12 recipients.
Top 25 Emerging Leaders
Clarence Sevillian, 39
President and CEO, Doctors' Hospital of Michigan
As a college football player in 1992, Clarence Sevillian caught passes totaling 222 yards in a single game as a receiver for Vanderbilt University, a school record he held until 2007.
During those 15 years, Sevillian, 39, signed with the Cincinnati Bengals and played on the practice squad for two seasons, trained and worked as a physical therapist, earned an MBA and rapidly worked his way up the management ranks of McLaren Health Care Corp., a six-hospital system based in his home town of Flint, Mich. Now Sevillian is rebuilding a losing team as president and CEO of Doctors' Hospital of Michigan, Pontiac. The for-profit venture formed with 60% physician ownership and a 35% stake held by McLaren to bring 137-bed North Oakland Medical Centers out of bankruptcy and back from the brink of closing. (The other 5% is being held in abeyance, and may be used to establish an employee stock ownership plan.) McLaren President and CEO Phil Incarnati calls Sevillian a “rare talent,” something Incarnati says he recognized when he blew out his Achilles tendon and first encountered Sevillian, at the time a physical therapist for 301-bed McLaren Regional Medical Center. The CEO says he recognized a potential leader. “People call it a lot of different things—whether it's charisma—but he has that,” Incarnati says. From there, Incarnati says he shared his impressions with the therapist's superiors, recommended to Sevillian that he pursue an MBA, and then “kept track of him without getting directly involved.”
Sevillian became manager of wellness in 2000 and by 2004 was director of business development and strategic planning—and he was well on his way to earning that MBA. In 2006, he was made vice president of operations at McLaren's 203-bed Lapeer (Mich.) Regional Medical Center, about 20 miles from Flint. Last year, when McLaren was looking into the wisdom of becoming a partner in Doctors' Hospital, Sevillian was dispatched to work on the system's due diligence, ultimately becoming the consensus choice to be the hospital's CEO when it emerged from bankruptcy in November 2008. But before that, the deal came perilously close to falling apart as the physician investors struggled to put together financing. The hospital transferred its patients and started winding down services before the state stepped in with a $5.8 million advance on disproportionate-share funds that gave the venture some room to run. But with zero patients, in Sevillian's football days this might be called “fourth and long.” “The majority of people gave it three months to last and it was going to close back down,” Sevillian says. The hospital lost nearly $2.6 million in the next four months but then posted its first positive numbers in March.