MultiCare Health System announced Wednesday that President and CEO Diane Cecchettini will retire during the second quarter of 2014.
Cecchettini, 65, joined MultiCare in 1989 as vice president for patient services, and ascended to her current position a decade later. She was the first woman, and the first nurse, to hold the position. She had previously worked for Sutter Health System in Sacramento and UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.
With 10,600 employees, MultiCare is Pierce County’s largest private employer. The health system operates five hospitals and dozens of smaller clinics in the region.
MultiCare’s board of directors has assembled a search committee to begin the process of recruiting Cecchettini’s successor. The committee will hold its first meeting next week, John Folsom, chairman of the MultiCare board, said Wednesday.
Cecchettini, he said, “has been a superb leader in the organization. She’s exercised leadership in MultiCare and the state hospital association, and across the nation in terms of the quality of patient care. She has this unwavering commitment to patient safety.”
Folsom also noted Cecchettini’s early adoption of a system of electronic health record-keeping, as well as her strategic outlook toward expansion of services in the region.
Before coming to MultiCare, Cecchettini spent 21 years in the Air Force Reserve as a flight nurse, served in the Vietnam era and was a troop commander in Desert Storm. She retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1993. She served two terms as chair of the governing board of the Washington State Hospital Association, and has served on several community boards in the Tacoma area.
Bruce Kendall, president and CEO of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County, said Wednesday that “Diane has very successfully led the largest private employer in Pierce County — in an industry that has been in a tremendous amount of flux.”
Kendall continued, “She has done it successfully. These are huge shoes to fill. I have the highest praise for what she and her team have been able to accomplish in that industry. It’s absolutely remarkable.”
He noted Cecchettini’s leadership both at MultiCare and in the community. “The Courage Classic, community health issues, Sound to Narrows — this is part of the fabric of the community that goes well beyond the walls of the hospitals.”
During her service as CEO, Cecchettini oversaw the expansion of the MultiCare system to include Good Samaritan Hospital and Auburn Medical Center. Along with presiding over the expansion of electronic health records, she shepherded improvements at the emergency departments at Tacoma General Hospital and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. She also was instrumental in re-establishing trauma services in Tacoma, in partnership with Franciscan Health System and Madigan Army Medical Center.
Joe Wilczek, CEO at Tacoma-based Franciscan Health System, offered a written response Wednesday afternoon to Ceccettini’s announcement.
“(H)er vision and compassion to help others will be missed. Even though we are competitors, Diane has always being willing to collaborate for the betterment of the community. At Franciscan, we were able to partner with MultiCare to bring Level II trauma services back to the Tacoma area and to establish the Carol Milgard Breast Center that provides comprehensive breast health services to all women in our community. I have personally enjoyed working with Diane over the years. She has been a great competitor and I wish her the very best as she enters this new chapter in her life.”C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535 c.r.roberts@ thenewstribune.com