- Officially became CEO of Henry Ford Health System in January after two-year stint as president
- Accomplishments include groundbreaking on multi-purpose outpatient cancer center, sports performance center with Detroit Pistons and bike-sharing sponsorship with city of Detroit
- Clinical expansions in oncology, cardiovascular and research dollars generated
Wright Lassiter III, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System, called 2017 the year of partnerships for the six-hospital, $5.7 billion integrated health system in his first full year as system CEO.
Accomplishments under Lassiter’s leadership include groundbreaking on a major outpatient cancer center on its Detroit campus in New Center and successful negotiations to become the Detroit Pistons’ official medical provider and medical manager of a 175,000-square-foot sports performance center.
“I think the negotiations to become (the Pistons’ official medical provider) were a success for us. Before the snow hit (Dec. 12), we had bulldozers out and they were beginning to clear out the surface and digging holes in the ground,” Lassiter said.
The $155 million cancer center is slated to open in early 2019 while the $83 million sports center is scheduled to open the summer before the Pistons’ 2019-2020 season. The facility will be privately financed and will be owned by the Pistons organization. It also will include a sports medicine, treatment and rehabilitation facility managed by Henry Ford.
Lassiter became CEO of Henry Ford officially in January, although he was essentially CEO-in-waiting for two years beginning in September 2014 before former CEO Nancy Schlichting retired.
In 2017, Henry Ford also installed a cutting edge advanced radiation therapy system called MRIdian Linac at its Henry Ford Medical Center-Cottage in Grosse Pointe Farms. The system’s first patient in the world was treated there on July 19 for prostate cancer. Using MRI and linear accelerator delivery, the dosages can be more precise and radiation treatments more accurate.
“We felt very comfortable that this technology is superior to a proton beam therapy center,” Lassiter said. “This is a major investment in precision medicine.”
Lassiter said Henry Ford plans to install a second MRIdian in 2020 at its Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion at the Henry Ford Cancer Institute.
“This year we are going to be at or nearly at $100 million in research revenue for the first time in history,” said Lassiter, noting that recruitment of additional researchers and expanded research in cancer, neurosurgery and cardiovascular helped push Henry Ford over its $82 million in research in 2016.
Other partnerships included Henry Ford and other health systems working collaboratively with the state of Michigan on the opioid epidemic to improve the Michigan Automated Prescription System. Another was a partnership with the city of Detroit’s MoGo bike sharing program to help expand the city’s 430 bikes at 43 stations spread around 10 neighborhood locations.
A clinical partnership with four other health systems on the Detroit cardiogenic shock initiative will help double survival rates of life-threatening heart attacks, Lassiter said. Other partners include Beaumont Health, Detroit Medical Center, Ascension’s St. John and Providence hospitals and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.
Lassiter also is involved indirectly in the contract problems between Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit Medical Center and University Pediatrics, the independent pediatric group affiliated both with Wayne State and DMC.
Last year, Jack Sobel, M.D., WSU’s medical school dean, said frustration with a three-year teaching and clinical services contract with DMC led university officials to begin affiliation talks with Henry Ford and its 1,200-physician medical group.
“We are still very committed to our long-standing partnership with Wayne State,” Lassiter said. “One of the benefits of a new leader is trying to help the organization to be more focused and deliberative with partnerships. With Wayne State, we really believe (there is) synergy of working together on the research and clinical front. ... There seems to be a natural affinity with the two organizations.”