Franciscan Health System CEO to retire next January

Staff writerFebruary 26, 2014 

Franciscan Health System CEO Joe Wilczek


An executive who guided Tacoma-based Franciscan Health System through a major expansion over the past 16 years is retiring early next year.

Joe Wilczek has managed the expansion of Franciscan from a three-hospital group to a nine-hospital system with more than 100 clinics and specialty centers in the South Sound.

Wilczek is the second chief executive of a major Tacoma health care provider to seek retirement in the last several months. Diane Cecchettini, chief executive at Franciscan’s Tacoma rival, MultiCare Health System, is retiring this year. Her replacement, William Robertson, will take over in May.

Wilczek presides over a health care empire that employs some 12,000 workers, generates $1.8 billion in revenue and includes St. Joseph Medical Care Center, Tacoma; St. Clare Hospital, Lakewood; St. Anthony Hospital, Gig Harbor; St. Francis Hospital, Federal Way; St. Elizabeth Hospital, Enumclaw; Highline Medical Center, Burien and Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton.

Wilczek is also senior vice president for divisional operations for Catholic Health Initiatives, Franciscan’s Denver-based parent. He will retire from that position as well.

The Franciscan executive is 67. He will be 68 when he retires.

Wilczek said he decided to retire because the timing is right. The integration of Harrison and Highline into the Franciscan network is proceeding well. And no major crises face the health system.

The system’s chief operating officer, Cliff Robertson, recently left to assume command of CHI’s Nebraska Health Network. Wilczek said he believes the new chief executive should have a say in naming the new second-in-command at Franciscan.

Wilczek said he intends to stay in the Northwest where his two daughters are working in health care.

Catholic Health Initiatives said Wednesday it is launching a nationwide search for Wilczek’s replacement. That replacement is expected to be named later this year.

“Joe Wilczek has been a visionary in expanding the reach and mission of Franciscan,” said Roy Brooks, Franciscan Health System’s board chairman. “Joe cares deeply about improving the lives of people we serve each and every day. He has been a champion of new and innovative ways to deliver health care in our community, and his leadership will be greatly missed.”

Praise for Wilczek and his service also came from the parent company.

“Joe has been an integral part of Catholic Health Initiatives for many years,” said Michael Rowan, Catholic Health Initiatives president for health system delivery. “He’s been instrumental in building a strong, regional health system that has enhanced integrated, coordinated care and been a benefit to people across the Puget Sound region,” he said.

The Franciscan executive led several hospitals and health systems in the Midwest and on the East Coast before coming to Tacoma. He served as special assistant to the Executive Office of the President under Richard Nixon. He is also a former Army officer. Wilczek received his master’s degree from George Washington University.

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