O’Donnell Leaving Children’s Mercy Early

The change at Children’s Mercy Kansas City was coming; turns out, it’s arriving just a bit ahead of schedule. The region’s premier pediatric hospital announced this week that CEO Rand O’Donnell’s planned retirement departure would take effect after next week.

 In a letter to employees announcing the move—which will put COO Jo Stueve at the helm as interim president/CEO until Paul Kempinski arrives Nov. 1—O’Donnell wrote, “I’ve been having some health challenges and I just haven’t bounced back as quickly as expected.”

  “I could not be more pleased with the board’s decision,” O’Donnell wrote. “Jo is an outstanding leader with whom I’ve had the privilege of working alongside for many, many years. She knows Children’s Mercy—and loves Children’s Mercy—as much as I do. I am grateful that the board has entrusted the position to Jo and that she is willing to step into this role.”

Kempinski, who leads the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., was announced as O’Donnell’s successor in July, following a 10-month search. Holding the reins until Nov. 1 is Stueve, who been at the hospital for more than 30 years and oversees patient-care services, business development, strategic planning, facilities, philanthropy, marketing and communications, technology management, Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas, and the hospital’s regional medical practices at 15 locations overall.

 O’Donnell leaves behind a monument to his vision of what pediatric care in the region could become. “Rand’s legacy is unequaled,” said Stueve. “When he arrived at Children’s Mercy 25 years ago, the hospital was an oft-overlooked children’s hospital. Today, it is one of the top-rated pediatric medical centers in the nation and a crown jewel of our community.”

 In 1993, Children’s Mercy had 167 beds; today, there are 368, the hospital noted in a news release announcing O’Donnell’s departure. Over that span, the number of employees grew from 1,768 to more than 8,100 and net revenue increased from $167 million to $1.4 billion.

O’Donnell also led construction of Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas in Overland Park, grew outreach patient services across Missouri and Kansas, and led the vision to build the nation’s first pediatric genome center housed inside a children’s hospital, as well as a new Fetal Health Center. And this year, he announced the largest combined gifts ever to pediatric research—$150 million—toward the hospital’s new Children’s Research Institute.