Health Care

Mayo Clinic exec to lead Via Christi

With the last of two daughters out of the house, Jeffrey Korsmo decided it was time for a change, even though he'd been working for the Mayo Clinic for nearly three decades.

Korsmo, 52, was named Monday the president and CEO of Via Christi Health.

"We're at a different situation with our family today where a move wouldn't be very disruptive," Korsmo said Monday in a telephone interview from Rochester, Minn. "My wife (Jenny) and I decided it was time to do a new challenge and a new experience in life.

"That's what got me to where I am."

He is expected to join Via Christi in early September.

Korsmo has been with Mayo for 28 years, serving in roles such as chief administrative officer of Mayo's operations in Rochester, as well as chief financial officer there and in Jacksonville, Fla.

He also was involved in shaping health care policy as executive director of the clinic's Health Policy Center.

"I think as you read through that resume... his depth of experience in health care expands the globe," said Dave Strohm, chair of the Via Christi Health board of trustees. "We felt like he was extremely well versed in health care and able to give Via Christi Health the benefit of his insight and wisdom as we move forward, figuring out what our position will be in health care in the next 10 to 15 years."

Strohm said the position requires someone who is capable of thinking strategically. "The vision is very, very important right now" because of all the changes mandated by the new federal health care law.

"The other thing about Jeff... is the fact that Jeff's No. 1 focus is patient-centered care. That has been kind of an emphasis in (his) conversations with stakeholders... and how Via Christi can improve on patient-centered care," Strohm said.

Korsmo said when he began looking for a job outside Mayo, he would only consider joining organizations that had similar values and missions.

Those values that included an organization being a good steward of its resources and committed to not only its patients but also to improving the health of the communities in which it operates.

"That needed to come through for me very strongly if I was going to be interested in moving," he said.

Shirley Weis, Mayo's chief administrative officer, said she worked with Korsmo for 16 years.

"I think you're getting a great leader," she said.

Weis said Korsmo is involved with the community where he lives. In Rochester, she said, he worked with government and civic leaders on an effort to make the Minnesota city a destination for health care.

"He did a tremendous amount of work... to make this a warm, welcoming community to patients and their families," Weis said.

Korsmo said because he's been to Wichita only for brief periods a few times, he doesn't have many plans for changes at Via Christi.

But a primary focus will be to improve on the quality and cost of care area patients receive.

"We have all of the pieces to bring together and knit together in a stronger way, to really make Wichita a model in the country for high value health care," Korsmo said. "We do have to... really work together with the patient at the center."

Korsmo replaces Kevin Conlin, who left Via Christi late last year to join health insurance firm Coventry as executive vice president.

Randy Peterson has been interim president and CEO. Peterson will resume his role as senior vice president of Via Christi Health, overseeing all of its hospitals including those in Wichita.

Via Christi Health is the area's largest health system. It owns or partially owns 11 hospitals in Kansas — including Via Christi hospitals on St. Francis, Harry and St. Teresa in Wichita — and owns, operates and/or manages senior villages and programs, home health and home medical services and ambulatory surgery and imaging centers.

It has 10,000 employees.