ben-chu-ceo-memorial-hermannBenjamin Chu, M.D., was named president and CEO of Memorial Hermann Health System, Houston, effective in June.

Chu, a former chairman of the American Hospital Association, serves as executive vice president of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and group president of Kaiser Permanente Southern California and Georgia regions.

Chu, trained as a primary care internist, will take over from Dan Wolterman, who announced in October his intention to retire. His retirement is scheduled for Aug. 1. Wolterman led a number of initiatives in his 17 years as leader of Memorial Hermann, including an emphasis on quality and safety as the underpinning of the organization.

Chu’s experience at Kaiser's integrated system and with population health were key attractions in seeking him as Memorial Hermann's head, board chair Will Williams said. “This is a journey that Dan Wolterman has gotten us started on,” Williams said. “We’re looking for [Chu] to continue that journey.”

“Dr. Chu has all the qualities you’d look for in a leader,” Williams said.

Rick Pollack, AHA president and CEO, voiced support for Chu's hiring. “Ben is the right person to build upon the strong foundation put in place by Dan Wolterman," Pollack said.  "Ben has been a successful leader in a variety of settings and a true champion of patient-centric care,” Pollack said. “He has provided thoughtful, insightful leadership for the hospital field and understands the value of collaboration and partnership. And he has an incredible understanding of where health care needs to go in the future.”

Kaiser’s plans for replacing Chu were not immediately available.