Michael Wilson announced his retirement as president and chief executive of Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center following a 27-year career in which he helped usher in medical achievements and business decisions that cemented the hospital’s status as a regional leader.
He will continue to advise the local leadership of Providence for several months as executives work through a recession that will cut services and jobs, yet embark on an ambitious expansion plan at the hospital.
“You know, I look at the campuses of these two hospitals and I’m pretty proud of what we’ve done,” Wilson said of Sacred Heart and Holy Family Hospital. “There’s still more to be done.”
Wilson, 58, started his health care career as a bedside social worker for the VA Hospital in Seattle. His first management stint began in 1975 as a leader of administrative services.
By 1982 he was at Holy Family and named CEO of the hospital in North Spokane by 1984.
In 1988 he came to Sacred Heart and was asked to build the Heart Institute.
Wilson is an Episcopalian who felt right at home with the values and ministry of the Catholic hospital system.
He worked for Sister Peter Claver and others and has been the hospital’s point man on state policies affecting health care delivery.
“Mike’s contributions to this organization are substantial, and the impact he has had on this community with his health care leadership is outstanding,” said Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, CEO of Providence’s Eastern Washington operations.
Wilson deferred credit to staff: “They’ve all made me look good for a long time.”
In a letter to volunteers, staff and physicians, Wilson acknowledged that his early retirement decision is related to the difficult times for health care: “Effects of the national recession, unprecedented state budget cuts, and our most recent financial performance call for immediate attention, and pressure on leadership is great.” Agwunobi will absorb Wilson’s duties this week, though Wilson will help shepherd Sacred Heart’s ambitious $175 million expansion plans.
Pondering life after Providence, Wilson said he might someday like to become involved in health reform efforts.
He will likely find supporters ready.
“In my book Mike Wilson is among the top two or three health care professionals in Washington,” said Leo Greenawalt, president and CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association.
First, however, Wilson plans to sharpen his golf game and go fly-fishing with his wife, Carol Wilson.
Yet that will all have to compete with important family business – namely cradling his new granddaughter.
“I’ve lived a life of 14-hour days filled with meetings,” Wilson said. “If I do something again, it will have to be something that fits into a less rigorous lifestyle.”
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.