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Kaiser, healthcare community mourn loss of CEO Bernard Tyson

Tyson headed Kaiser for six years and was there for over 30, managing all major aspects of the integrated health system.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard J. Tyson, 60, died unexpectedly Sunday morning, the health system has announced.

"It is with profound sadness that we announce that Bernard J. Tyson, Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, unexpectedly passed away early Sunday morning in his sleep," Kaiser said. "On behalf of our Board of Directors, employees and physicians, we extend our deepest sympathies to Bernard's family during this very difficult time."

Effective immediately, the board of directors has named Gregory A. Adams, executive vice president and group president, as interim chairman and CEO.

Tyson's career at the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and Hospitals, known as Kaiser Permanente, spanned more than 30 years. He managed all major aspects of the organization, serving in roles from hospital administrator and division president to chief operating officer.

In 2013, Tyson became CEO, and was named chairman of the board of directors in 2014.

When Tyson took over as CEO, Kaiser Permanente had 9.1 million members, employed a workforce of 174,000, including 17,000 physicians, and generated $53 billion in annual revenue. Today the organization provides care and coverage to 12.3 million members, has a workforce of 218,000 employees, including 23,000 physicians, and annual revenue of more than $82.8 billion.

Tyson's influence was felt both nationally and internationally. TIME included him on its list of the most influential people in the world and named him one of the Health Care 50. Also, in addition to being named by Modern Healthcare as one of the most influential people in healthcare for five consecutive years, he was No. 2 on the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare list and on Fast Company's list of most creative people.

Tyson served on the boards of directors for the American Heart Association and Salesforce. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, served as deputy chairman of the Americas of the International Federation of Health Plans and was the former chair of American Health Insurance Plans.

AHIP said,  "Bernard Tyson was a revered leader.  We are devastated by his sudden passing.  His passion for helping people ... his strong desire to serve ... his dedication every day to making people healthier and communities stronger ... his towering eminence as a leader.  He epitomized what we should all strive to deliver."

Tyson also served as a steward of the World Economic Forum's Global Challenge on the Future of Health and Healthcare and was a member of the Business Council and Bay Area Council, a business-led public policy organization advocating for a strong economy and better quality of life for Bay Area residents.

A San Francisco Bay Area native, Tyson earned a Master of Business Administration in Health Service Administration and a bachelor's degree in Health Service Management from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. He earned a leadership certificate from Harvard University.

Bernard is survived by his wife, Denise Bradley-Tyson, and three sons; Bernard J. Tyson Jr., Alexander and Charles.

Kaiser called Tyson an outstanding leader, visionary and champion for high-quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans and a tireless advocate for Kaiser, its members and the communities it serves.

"Most importantly, Bernard was a devoted husband, father and friend. We all will miss his tremendous presence in our lives," Kaiser said.

"Bernard was an exceptional colleague, a passionate leader, and an honorable man. We will greatly miss him," said board member Edward Pei, chair of the Executive Committee and the Governance, Accountability and Nominating Committee. "The board has full confidence in Greg Adams' ability to lead Kaiser Permanente through this unexpected transition."

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com