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London hospitals’ CEO Nordal to retire

LONDON, Ont. – After what will be a 41-year career in Canada’s healthcare system, London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Healthcare London CEO Cliff Nordal has announced he will be stepping down, effective Jan. 1, 2011.

“It is with mixed emotions that I make this announcement. I am very grateful for the unique opportunities I have had to contribute and to provide leadership to healthcare in London,” said Nordal.

“I am especially grateful to the staff, physicians and volunteers of both London hospitals for their dedication and commitment to the patients they serve each and every day. I want to extend my appreciation to the entire London community who take great pride in their hospitals and provide unwavering support to these two great institutions.”

Since 2006, Nordal has served in the unique role of shared CEO for both London hospitals. His shared role was established to ensure both hospitals continued to work closely together to complete hospital restructuring in London while maintaining London’s status as a premiere academic hospital system.

“Cliff Nordal has provided outstanding leadership to the London healthcare system. The second major phase of hospital restructuring has been designed, funded and is well under way to completion, including the plans for the closure of South Street,” said Bob Siskind, board chair of London Health Sciences Centre.

“For LHSC, Cliff has provided exemplary leadership, creating a stable platform for the future. I am delighted that he will be working with us over the coming months as we prepare for new leadership. On behalf of the board I want to extend our profound gratitude for his service and our best wishes for his retirement.”

Nordal first came to London 12 years ago as President and CEO of St. Joseph’s, where he immediately began to lead the organization through significant changes in the hospital’s roles and services, including the mergers of the former London and St. Thomas Psychiatric Hospitals with St. Joseph’s and the recreation of St. Joseph’s Hospital.

“Cliff has been the change agent our hospital system needed during more than a decade of rebuilding and renewal,” said Dr. Gerry Killan, chair of the board of St. Joseph’s. “He has enabled St. Joseph’s to embrace new roles while upholding the organization’s roots of faith and service. He is a steadying force and a leader of great integrity, advocating for not only our hospitals but for the healthcare and academic system as a whole. We have been blessed with his dedication to excellent, compassionate care.”

For 28 of his 41-year leadership career in healthcare, Nordal has held four hospital CEO positions, making him the longest serving hospital CEO in Ontario today. Before coming to London, Nordal was CEO at the Rehabilitation Institute of Toronto and Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Throughout his career, Nordal has led the creation of the most integrated system of hospital care in Ontario. Integration at both the administrative and clinical levels has enhanced the patient care experience for London patients, resulting in improved handoffs between care-giving organizations, reduced duplication of tests, consolidation of clinical programs, vastly improved facilities and integrated health information systems, including a diagnostic imaging system that spans southwestern Ontario.

“Although I will miss the hospitals and our work together, I look forward to a new phase in my life which will enable me to spend more time with my wife, Patty and my family, pursue travel and explore my hobbies and interests, including continuing to advocate for Canada’s healthcare system,” said Nordal.

“However,” he continued, “there is still much to do in the coming year and I look forward to very productive work with our boards, leadership teams and our community partners.”

Killan said Nordal will be tough to replace, but with close to one-year’s notice London hospitals have ample time needed to recruit and ensure a smooth transition.

“We also appreciate that Cliff has offered to provide the boards with his full support and counsel as we prepare for the future beyond the restructuring journey he has so ably led,” he said.

Posted Jan. 28, 2010