Innovative human resource veteran named chief human resources officer at the University of Chicago Medical Center

July 1, 2008

Larry A. Callahan has been appointed chief human resources officer at the University of Chicago Medical Center, effective July 27, 2008, overseeing the strategic initiatives to attract, develop, reward and retain the more than 9,500 staff and faculty who carry out the Medical Center's mission of delivering highly complex patient care, training the next generation of physicians and researchers, and creating agenda-setting science.

Callahan previously served as vice president for human resources for Norton Healthcare in Louisville, Ky., a 9,700-employee hospital system often rated among the nation's finest. During his time at Norton Healthcare, he created a clear human resources vision and innovative employee programs that aligned employee satisfaction with business objectives, helping achieve Norton Healthcare's recognition by Humana, Inc., as a "Top 25 Best Large Places to Work in KY" for three consecutive years.

Callahan was able to surpass employee-satisfaction industry benchmarks and thus help differentiate Norton Healthcare by engaging employees in many key areas: attracting and retaining critical patient care talent, reducing voluntary turnover, diversity training and more deeply ingraining a culture of reward & recognition. Callahan also helped create and benchmark a clearly defined Diversity Agenda, making strength through diversity a top managerial priority and noting that Norton worked towards "diversity in thought as well as deed."

"Recruiting top talent will always be central to building human assets, but first we have to motivate, recognize and retain top talent in house--especially the direct patient caregivers including critical care nurses that often define the patient experience," Callahan said. "In today's war for talent, it is of utmost importance to differentiate the University of Chicago Medical Center. Sincere commitment to employees, as measured by fewer people leaving, will better establish us as a destination for more world class staff."

Callahan will focus on deepening UCMC's brand identity as one of world's leading biomedical enterprises by strengthening a patient-centric culture. "Brand success is determined externally," he said. "The patient experience is what determines reputation. Structuring the initiatives, engaging, rewarding and recognizing employees who help meet our mission of service results in a better reputation and brand."

Prior to entering provider-based health care, Callahan spent more than a two decades building and refining human resource strategy for technology and business services leader Siemens. In his last assignment as senior vice president of human resources, Callahan led all human resource functions for Siemens' U.S. operations of global consulting and services. His employee engagement and motivation initiatives reduced voluntary turnover rates by more than 50 percent and he helped lead a business restructuring effort that drove a one-year turnaround from $238 million loss to a $6 million profit. He also led the development of many innovations, such as an online workforce planning and management tool (e-HR) and an employee resource call center for employee service and recognition and reward programs.

His experience with building collaborative work teams organized around a central mission will accelerate the progress already occurring at UCMC. "Human Resources must be a business partner that helps every unit of the University of Chicago Medical structure collaboration into everyday efforts--the thread the ties us together so our results as a team far exceed the sum of our parts," he said.

"The University of Chicago Medical Center faculty and staff are, quite simply, world-class. Whether a care-giver or a professional that provides the support, research or technology to a care-giver, we are all bound by the mission of healing people--often the most complex cases in the world. I look forward to combining my health care and technology industry experiences into strategies that help empower, build and retain this amazing staff. It is exciting to be in, and among, this rare company," Callahan commented.

Callahan, 55, will oversee the entire human resource function for UCMC, reporting to the president, David Hefner, and becoming an integral member and partner of the senior executive team by helping more tightly align human resource strategies with business objectives and strategic priorities.

"Maintaining our tremendous pace of change cannot be driven by 9,500 individual efforts. Larry will deepen our team culture, driving us towards our shared multi-year aspirations." said Hefner, who has overseen benchmarked improvements in quality, safety, financial performance, service and patient satisfaction metrics. "We are confident his track record of innovation and employee engagement will help accelerate both the spirit and process of collaboration. Every single UCMC employee is connected to our shared mission of improving care quality, leading-edge research, financial sustainability and community engagement. Those positive results accrue exponentially when we work together and we look forward to Larry showing us how with team work."

Callahan holds a master degree in political science from Marshall University and a bachelor degree in political science from West Virginia State University. He and wife Linda have three children and will soon be relocating to the Chicago-area with their two high school-aged sons, Alexander and Austin.

About the University of Chicago Medical Center

The University of Chicago Medical Center, established in 1927, is one of the nation's leading academic medical institutions. It consists of the renowned Pritzker School of Medicine; Bernard Mitchell Hospital, the primary adult patient care facility; Comer Children's Hospital, devoted to the medical needs of children; Chicago Lying-in Hospital, a maternity and women's hospital; and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, a state-of-the-art ambulatory-care facility with the full spectrum of preventive, diagnostic, and treatment functions. Care is provided by more than 700 attending physicians--most of whom are full-time University faculty members--620 residents and fellows, more than 1,000 nurses and 9,500 employees.

The Medical Center is consistently recognized as a leading provider of complex medical care. It is the only Illinois hospital ever to make the U.S. News and World Report Honor Roll, with eight clinical specialties--digestive disorders; cancer; endocrinology; neurology and neurosurgery; heart and heart surgery; kidney disease; geriatrics; and ear, nose and throat--ranked among the top 25 programs nationwide. The Medical Center was awarded Magnet status in 2007, the highest level of recognition for nursing care.

University of Chicago physician-scientists performed the first organ transplant and the first bone marrow transplant in animal models, the first successful living-donor liver transplant, the first hormone therapy for cancer and the first successful application of cancer chemotherapy. They discovered REM sleep and were the first to describe many of the stages of sleep.

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Press Contact

John Easton
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john.easton@uchospitals.edu