September 03, 2009 17:34 ET

VHA Network Hires Hospital CEO to Lead VHA West Coast Region, Forms New Pacific Northwest Regional Office to Enhance Support for West Coast Members

IRVING, TX--(Marketwire - September 3, 2009) - VHA Inc., the national health care network, has hired Rick Barnett as senior vice president of its West Coast regional office, and it has elevated John Thomas to the post of senior vice president to lead the newly formed VHA Pacific Northwest office, VHA's 17th regional office.

Rick Barnett was previously president and chief executive officer of Mercy Medical Center Redding, Calif., which is a part of Catholic Healthcare West. He has held a number of senior management positions in health care for the past 23 years, including seven years as CEO at Mercy Redding, four years as CEO at Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta, Calif., and 10 years in COO positions. Barnett is a seasoned hospital executive who has run large and small hospitals and is familiar with the West Coast marketplace.

VHA West Coast serves more than 90 VHA member hospitals in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and one hospital in Oregon and Washington.

Thomas joined VHA in 2005 as executive director of the Cascade Health Network. Based on his experience and the leadership he brought to the Cascade Network, he was named leader of the VHA Pacific Network, a slightly larger VHA network group in 2007. This network evolved into the Pacific Northwest region. Thomas has a 23-year career in health care.

VHA Pacific Northwest, based in Seattle, serves 41 VHA member hospitals in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, including controlled facilities that are part of Providence Health & Services located in California and Montana.

"Prior to the formation of VHA Pacific Northwest, VHA West Coast covered the largest geography of any of our regions, serving members in seven West Coast states," said Gary Ford, group senior vice president at VHA. "Splitting our West Coast region into two regions allows our teams to serve members more efficiently, with a local perspective and in a more hands-on, customized fashion."

"Hospitals face an impossible balancing act," said Ford. "On one side is the drive to expand and improve care for millions, and on the other is a dwindling pool of resources to the get the job done. VHA engages members on both levels and helps them improve care and maximize their resources."

While the two regions will operate separately, Ford said they will actively share and collaborate in several key areas, including regional contracting, business development, education and member networking in order to maximize member value.

About VHA

VHA Inc., based in Irving, Texas, is a national network of not-for-profit health care organizations that work together to drive maximum savings in the supply chain arena, set new levels of clinical performance, and identify and implement best practices to improve operational efficiency and clinical outcomes. Formed in 1977, through its 17 regional offices, VHA serves more than 1,400 hospitals and more than 24,000 non-acute care providers nationwide.

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