Lee Health chief plans to step away from role

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Jim Nathan

FORT MYERS, Fla. Lee Health President/CEO Jim Nathan plans to step away from his position.

Nathan is asking the Board of Directors to relinquish his role as president and take on other duties through the end of his contract in 2019, Lee Health spokeswoman Mary G. Briggs said. Nathan told The News-Press the move would be effective June 1.

“The duties will be at the discretion of the Board and the new President, but the type of things that Jim is suggesting would be involved with high level strategies such as assisting our Foundation with fundraising, future leadership selection and new strategies around population health,” Briggs said.

Nathan informed the board of his decision Thursday. He will retain benefits and accrued benefits but will not be paid any additional compensation, Lee Health said. He’s been receiving a salary of approximately $900,000 a year.

“The timing feels right to make this transition,” Nathan said. “I am proud of the impressive team we have assembled and feel that Lee Health is prepared for the challenges of a rapidly changing health care delivery system and the ‘future world’ of coordinated care and population health.”

The board will discuss Nathan’s request, the appointment of an interim president/CEO and a plan to appoint a successor at its next meeting May 4. The meeting is open to the public and begins at 1 p.m. at the medical office building at Gulf Coast Medical Center at 13685 Doctors Way in south Fort Myers.

Nathan, 70, has been involved with the company since 1975, with the exception of a three-year stretch from 1997-2000 when he served as a consultant on national health care reform, testifying before the U.S. Senate.

He began with Lee Memorial Hospital as an administrative assistant and served as the hospital’s vice president from 1976-81 and president from 1982-97. He returned to Lee Health in his current capacity in 2000.

Lee Health grew during Nathan’s tenure from a single hospital into a system with a half-dozen locations and more expansion on the way. The new Golisano Children’s Hospital is set to open next month.

The organization had about 1,200 employees when Nathan began. It now employs more than 13,000.

Nathan’s legacy in the community can’t be overstated, Lee Health Chairman of the Board Dr. Sanford Cohen said.

“Jim has expertly piloted Lee Health to significant success during his tenure, and has assembled a talented management team,” Cohen said. “We are pleased that his new role as a resource to the Board and administration allows Lee Health the continued benefit of his strategic leadership.”

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