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USC Verdugo Hills Hospital selects new CEO

Debbie Walsh joins a hospital with a 40-year history of serving the Foothill communities. (Photo/Jason Wallis)

Debbie Walsh, most recently president and CEO of Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center and past CEO of the former USC University Hospital (now Keck Hospital of USC), has been named the new CEO of USC Verdugo Hills Hospital.

Walsh, whose health care career began nearly 30 years ago and includes experience as chief nursing officer and chief operating officer, succeeds outgoing USC Verdugo Hills Hospital CEO Leonard LaBella, who will retire later this year.

“Debbie Walsh’s skills, experience and familiarity with USC make her the ideal choice for the position of CEO of USC Verdugo Hills Hospital,” said Thomas E. Jackiewicz, senior vice president and CEO of USC Health. “This is a critical time in health care and how we navigate the path ahead is determined by the people who lead the way. Debbie will be instrumental in helping us meet the needs of the community.”

LaBella, whose retirement caps more than 42 years of experience as a health care executive and who has served on numerous community associations and corporate boards, will serve as emeritus adviser to USC Verdugo Hills Hospital and Jackiewicz until his anticipated retirement later this year.

Walsh served as CEO of USC University Hospital and USC Norris Cancer Hospital from 2006 to 2009. The hospitals were purchased by USC from Tenet Healthcare Corp. in April 2009. While at the two hospitals, Walsh led initiatives that improved quality outcomes, patient satisfaction and hospital financial performance; expanded and restructured hospital programs and information systems; and oversaw the construction of the Norris Inpatient Tower on the then-USC University Hospital campus.

“It’s an honor to join USC Verdugo Hills Hospital and Keck Medicine of USC,” Walsh said. “I’m excited about expanding on the accomplishments Len LaBella made during his 12-year tenure, and I look forward to meeting members of the community to understand the needs and services they consider most important. It’s also great to come back and be part of the Trojan Family.”

Most recently at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center, Walsh has been responsible for operations and strategic planning of a 400-bed acute care hospital offering services for adults and pediatric patients. Hospital programs include a Level III neonatal intensive care unit, a pediatric intensive care unit, obstetrics, an emergency department with chest pain and stroke center accreditation, and services including orthopaedic and spine care, heart and vascular care, neurosurgery, gastrointestinal care, an imaging center and a breast center.

“Debbie Walsh’s resume is well matched to meet the demands of leadership of a vibrant community hospital,” LaBella said. “USC Verdugo Hills is fortunate to have selected a seasoned CEO with the requisite talent and experience to meet the challenges facing a senior health care executive.”

Walsh joins a hospital with a 40-year history of serving the Foothill communities, providing a 24-hour emergency department, primary stroke center, maternity/labor and delivery, cardiac rehabilitation and imaging and diagnostic services. Walsh’s experience and success with enhancing obstetrics and pediatric care mesh with USC’s goals to expand services in women’s and children’s health in Glendale, Calif.

As CEO of USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, Walsh’s duties include managing continuous improvement, developing and managing the hospital budget, reporting monthly to the USC Verdugo Hills Hospital governing board on hospital performance, serving on the Keck Medicine of USC governing board, and developing and fostering collaboration among clinical departments, divisions, medical staff leadership, faculty and affiliated services.

“I’m looking forward to working collaboratively with Debbie Walsh to expand USC Verdugo Hills Hospital’s reputation as a leader in community health care,” said Robert Develle, member of the Governing Board at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital.

Walsh holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from California State University, Los Angeles, as well as a master’s of science degree in nursing from Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, Calif. She holds a California registered nurse license and belongs to the Hospital Association of Southern California, serving as area board chair in 2011 and on the board in 2011 and 2012.

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