ThedaCare CEO Dr. Dean Gruner announces retirement

Posted on Oct 11, 2016 :: Insight on Business, Web Exclusive.
Sean P. Johnson
Posted by of Insight Publications

Dr. Dean Gruner, who began his career in health care 40 years ago and has served the Fox Cities region for 33 years — including as president and CEO of ThedaCare since April 2008 — announced he is retiring.

“I thought long and hard about this decision, and I look forward to getting more involved in community building, volunteering and doing mission work. I also want to spend more time with my wife Pam, family and friends – especially my three adorable grandchildren,” Gruner, 62, of Appleton, says. “This is a new era of health care and I am proud that ThedaCare has a strong leadership team in place to continue our journey,”

Under his direction, ThedaCare became the largest health care provider in Northeast Wisconsin, and the largest locally based employer, with 7,000 employees, seven hospitals, 34 clinics and other health care services covering nine counties.

“Dr. Gruner has been committed to improving the health care of the communities we serve and the board appreciates his dedication and devotion to our mission,” says John Davis, chairman of ThedaCare Board of Trustees.

A national executive search firm has been hired to look for internal and external candidates, and a board search committee has been formed, Davis says. The board will hire the new leader and the process is anticipated to take six to nine months, with a transition to the new president and CEO to happen in summer 2017. Succession talks started when Gruner was hired and have continued annually to assure that ThedaCare has always been prepared

“I plan to stay involved 100 percent active and committed and sprint through the finish line – when the Board hires a successor,” Gruner says.

Gruner spearheaded the exploration of improving healthcare in the Fox Cities with the consideration of one Fox Cities regional medical center. That journey will continue.

“The board, system leadership team, physicians and nurses are firmly committed and will continue the work while engaging our providers, business leaders, and ThedaCare team members in discussions about the future of health care in Northeast Wisconsin,” he says.

Gruner served in multiple leadership positions with ThedaCare or its affiliates since it was founded as Novus Health Group in 1987. He previously served as chief medical officer of both ThedaCare and the former Touchpoint Health Plan, which was sold to United Healthcare in 2004. He was one of the founding physicians of Touchpoint, and was a practicing family physician with Family Doctors, S.C., which affiliated with ThedaCare in 1994.

In 2000, Dr. Gruner was named chief medical officer for ThedaCare. In 2003 he became senior vice president for ThedaCare Physicians, an ambulatory care practice at the time consisting of 150 providers and 20 clinics. In 2008, he became president and CEO of ThedaCare.