A Virginia judge on Friday temporarily blocked Gov. Glenn Youngkin's (R) executive order to make mask optional in schools, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from Oklahoma and Virginia.
- Oklahoma: OU Health on Friday appointed Richard Lofgren as its new CEO. Lofgren, who previously served as UC Health's longtime CEO, will lead the newly formed integrated academic health system, which was created last year after OU Medicine hospitals merged with its affiliated physicians. "Because of Dr. Lofgren's leadership ability and his deep commitment to academic healthcare, we are well positioned to optimize all three components of our mission—patient care, research and education—to improve the health of all Oklahomans," said Joseph Harroz, OU president and OU Health board member. (Kacik, Modern Healthcare, 2/4)
- Virginia: Virginia Circuit Judge Louise DiMatteo on Friday temporarily blocked the enforcement of Gov. Glenn Youngkin's (R) executive order making masks optional in schools. Seven school boards sued Youngkin over his executive order, saying it violated the state's constitution—which says that school supervision should be left up to the boards—and a Virginia law that requires school districts to adhere to all federal health guidelines. DiMatteo ruled in favor of the school boards, citing the state law that requires school districts to follow CDC's Covid-19 guidelines. As a result, schools will be able to keep mask mandates in place as the lawsuit moves up the courts. "While the General Assembly has granted the Governor significant and sweeping general powers to address an emergency, when confronted with a specific statute addressing the manner in which in-person learning can resume and directs local school boards to follow the guidance of the CDC, 'the maximum extent practicable,' it does not follow that the governor, even in an emergency, can direct School Boards to ignore the General Assembly's deference to CDC guidance and to abandon their considered determination about what is practicable," DiMatteo wrote. (Chen, Axios, 2/5)
- Virginia: Sentara Healthcare on Friday announced that its CEO Howard Kern intends to retire by the end of the year but will remain with the hospital system until his successor has been named. Kern, who has served as Sentara's CEO since 2016, joined the not-for-profit health system in 1980 as an administrative fellow at Norfolk General Hospital. Since then, he has served in several leadership roles, including COO. According to Kern, Sentara is entering a new era in health care, which means it is time for new leadership. "I will forever remain personally devoted to Sentara Healthcare and the people who make it great," Kern said. "I will support the board and new CEO in whatever way I can to ensure a smooth transition that assures continued success for that individual, the system and our communities." (Bannow, Modern Healthcare, 2/4)