By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Palomar Health, the North County’s public health district, will be looking for a new president and CEO now that Michael Covert has announced his resignation.
Covert, in charge of Palomar Health since 2003, will leave on Aug. 15. He informed Palomar Health’s directors of his plans on May 30.
Those plans include becoming the regional market CEO of Catholic Health Initiatives St. Luke’s Health System in Houston, Texas. He will also be senior vice president for Catholic Health Initiatives, St. Luke’s parent company. Covert will begin his new job on Aug. 25.
“I am very proud of the time I had at Palomar Health,” Covert said. “I am most proud of the dedicated staff and physicians I have worked alongside for the past decade, and the administrative team I have put together.
“I have been astonished at the strength and resilience they have demonstrated and admire their continued delivery of outstanding care for the citizens in our community. I know they will continue to elevate the level of health care in the future.”
During Covert’s tenure, Palomar Health changed its name from Palomar Pomerado Health in 2012, a few months before it opened the new Palomar Medical Center, a 740,000 square-foot, 11-story, 288-bed, $956 million hospital. Other major projects included renovation of Pomerado Hospital in Poway, construction of its adjacent Pomerado Outpatient Pavilion and opening of the 10,406 square foot Jean McLaughlin Women’s Center for Health and Healing on the pavilion’s first floor in 2008.
Palomar Health’s Ramona clinic opened at 211 13th St. in March 2013. In addition to primary care, the clinic offers urgent care services.
Under Covert, Palomar Health also received Magnet Nursing designation, became the first California member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, was recognized as one of the Top 100 Employers by Modern Healthcare, was named one of the top small health-care systems in the United States by Truven Analytics and Modern Healthcare, and became the top health-care district in California according to the Association of California Hospital Districts.
“During his tenure with Palomar Health, Michael has brought our system to a new level,” said Ted Kleiter, Palomar Health’s board chairman. “He has fully executed the board’s vision to make Palomar Health a nationally recognized system. While we are sad to see him go, we are grateful for everything he has done for our community and our district and truly wish him and his family all the best.”
According to the state controller’s Government Compensation in California website, Covert received $700,858 in wages in 2012.
Before coming to Palomar Health, he had approximately 36 years of experience in health-care administration.
He was president and CEO of Sarasota Memorial Health Care System and the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. In Wichita, Kansas, he was acting director of the Public Health Department, chief operating officer at St. Francis Regional Medical Center and senior vice president of Physicians Corporation of America. He was also executive director of the Ohio State University of Hospitals in Columbus, Ohio.
As for finding Covert’s replacement, “The Palomar Health Board of Directors will execute our established succession plan to ensure a deliberate transition that will maintain the health system’s services to the community,” Kleiter said. “We will work collaboratively to identify a leader who will continue our commitment to patient-centered, high-quality care.”
Palomar Health, the largest public health-care district by area in California, has approximately 500,000 residents within its boundaries. Its facilities include hospitals in Escondido and Poway; health clinics in Ramona, Escondido, Rancho Penasquitos, San Elijo Hills and Temecula; and a skilled nursing facility in Poway.