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  1. Investigations

All Children’s hires new interim president

He will start on Feb. 18, two months after top leadership resigned following a Times investigation.

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has named a new interim president.

Tom Kmetz, who retired last year after a decade as president of the Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Ky., will take over on Feb. 18.

Johns Hopkins still plans to conduct a national search for a permanent replacement.

Kmetz’s hiring is the latest in a series of leadership changes at All Children’s following a Tampa Bay Times investigation that revealed a sharp rise in deaths and complications in the hospital’s heart surgery department.

[ Read the investigation: Johns Hopkins promised to elevate All Children’s Heart Institute. Then patients started to die at an alarming rate. ]

At least eight hospital employees warned supervisors about problems with the program’s surgeries, the Times reported in November. But the hospital’s leaders waited more than a year to take aggressive action to curtail the harm.

Dr. Jonathan Ellen, who had been the hospital’s CEO since 2012, resigned on Dec. 11. Three vice presidents and two surgeons also left the hospital. A third surgeon stepped down as chairman of the department of surgery but remains on the hospital’s staff.

[ Read more: Top All Children’s executives resign following Times report on heart surgeries ]

[ Also: Three more All Children’s officials resign following Times investigation ]

Johns Hopkins Health System President Kevin Sowers has been All Children’s interim president since Ellen left in December. In a note to employees, he called Kmetz “a collaborative, inclusive leader.”

“Most importantly, Tom is deeply committed to supporting a culture where patient safety is the priority and excellence of care is a shared mission,” Sowers wrote.

Kmetz is “exceptional,” said Cis Gruebbel, who worked with Kmetz for about 17 years and recently retired as vice president of pediatric operations at Norton Healthcare. “He is very patient-, physician- and staff-centric. He’s a man with incredible integrity,” Gruebbel said.

The hospital declined to make Kmetz available for comment Friday. In a press release, Kmetz said he felt “tremendously privileged to have a role in helping this beloved hospital move forward into its next chapter.”

Sowers told hospital employees earlier this week that he reached out across the country and found 11 candidates for the interim position. Each one was a recently retired leader of a children’s hospital. Five of them were brought in for interviews. Kmetz was chosen from that group.

Sowers also said he expects to search for a permanent replacement in eight to 12 months. He will continue making frequent visits to All Children’s and will work with the board on the national search, the release said.

Kmetz previously held positions on the boards of the Children’s Hospital Association, the Child Health Patient Safety Organization and the American Heart Association.

[ Click here to read all of the Times’ coverage of All Children‘s Heart Institute ]

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