SA health system launches CEO search amid billion-dollar expansion

University Health’s next chief executive will inherit multiple new hospital projects in high-growth areas

University Health broke ground in January 2024 on a forthcoming hospital campus near Texas A&M-San Antonio. The five-story complex is slated to open in 2027. (University Health)

SAN ANTONIO – University Health has teamed with an Illinois-based firm to conduct a national search for a new CEO. Its longtime leader George Hernandez has set a summer target for his planned exit.

Furst Group will launch that executive search as the public health system is undergoing a landmark expansion set to include the construction of two major hospital campuses that will extend its footprint in the region.

“I am aiming to work until July 1,” Hernandez told me.

Hernandez, who joined University Health more than 30 years ago, has served as its president and CEO since 2005. He’s led a major expansion of the health system’s flagship medical center campus that included the opening of the million-square-foot Sky Tower in 2014 and a larger Women’s and Children’s Hospital in 2023.

University Health has begun work on two additional major projects under Hernandez’s leadership. It recently broke ground on new campuses near Texas A&M University-San Antonio and Retama Park in Selma that will each include a hospital and medical office building.

Those projects represent an investment of roughly $1 billion and will provide key access to care in high-demand areas.

“I wanted to see them started,” Hernandez said.

The next CEO will need to oversee the build-out of those new campuses. Filling Hernandez’s shoes won’t be easy.

“George is a transformational leader,” Bexar County Hospital District Board of Managers Chair James Adams said.

Former Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff worked with Hernandez for years and supported his growth plans.

“He did a great job,” Wolff said.

Furst Group, a nearly 40-year-old company that specializes in identifying executive-level talent for health care and life science organizations, has ties to University Health. It’s helped the system secure other leaders in the past.

Hernandez’s planned exit will come in between legislative years. That will give his successor some time to prepare for the next session in 2025.

“I think 19 years is a good run,” Hernandez said. “You have to think of succession planning. I thought this was a good time.”

Read the full story in the San Antonio Business Journal.

Editor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between KSAT and the San Antonio Business Journal.

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