SHORT STAY: Dr. Barbara Griffith is leaving Woman’s Hospital after just two years to run Duke Raleigh Hospital. (Photo by Don Kadair)

Woman’s Hospital CEO Dr. Barbara Griffith is stepping down this fall, after just two years at the helm of the 165-bed hospital, and returning to North Carolina, where she will take over as president of the Duke Health System’s Duke Raleigh Hospital.

Though Duke Raleigh Hospital, with 186 beds, is roughly comparable in size to Woman’s, the move is a step up for Griffith: Duke Raleigh is located in Wake County, the nation’s second-fastest-growing health care market.

Griffith is no stranger to the prestigious Duke Health system. Prior to coming to Woman’s in September 2019, she was chief medical officer at Duke Regional Hospital, another of the three hospitals in the Duke system.

Griffith was known as a no-nonsense, down-to-earth administrator during a tenure marked by crisis and challenge. Just six months on the job, in a position that had been held for more than 20 years by her high-profile predecessor, Terri Fontenot, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, throwing health care institutions into a tailspin and forcing them to pivot, adapt and serve new patients in new ways.

Earlier this year, as things were settling down, Ochsner announced it had acquired the largest OB/GYN practice in the market, Louisiana Women’s Healthcare, which delivers more than 62% of the babies at Woman’s and occupies three floors in Woman’s physician office building.

Not long after the LWH announcement, Woman’s issued a request for information from health care systems interested in partnering on an affiliation that would enable cost sharing on services, equipment and, most importantly, the pricey EPIC medical records platform, which, with a price tag of more than $200 million over seven years, is out of Woman’s reach.

Griffith will remain at the hospital through the evaluation of the proposals, which are currently being vetted.

“Our brand, our culture and the way we deliver care here really is a very special thing,” she told Daily Report earlier this month. “We sincerely keep the patient at the center of all our decision making and whatever changes we make going forward, we’ll make those keeping the patient first.”

Despite the challenges during her short time at Woman’s, Griffith is credited with leading and supporting the work to improve maternal health outcomes, grow the hospital’s surgical volume, and add innovative technologies such as interventional radiology, Woman’s says in a prepared statement. She also initiated the commitment to improving diversity, equity and inclusion through staff education and process changes.

“I would like to sincerely thank Dr. Griffith for her invaluable leadership and significant contributions to Woman’s,” says Ben Marmande, Woman’s Hospital Foundation board chair. “During an incredibly turbulent time in health care, she represented the organization with grace, integrity, and vision.”

Paul Cleckner, Woman’s chief transformation officer, has been named interim CEO and will begin his tenure following Griffith’s departure in September. Until then, he will work with Griffith during the transition.

Woman’s has engaged global consulting firm Korn Ferry in the search for local and national candidates.  

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