Big healthcare CEO dies suddenly – cause unknown

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Bernard J. Tyson died suddenly this week. The chairman and chief executive officer of Kaiser Permanente passed away in his sleep on Sunday at the age of sixty.

Tyson had lead the Oakland-based non-profit health insurer since 2013, becoming the first African American to do so.

Major figure

In 2015, he was ranked by Modern Healthcare as the third on its list of the one hundred most influential people in healthcare. The website reported his 2013 salary as being over four million dollars. Tyson had been named number two the year before.

A 2017 Time magazine profile called him “one of the leading authorities on public health in America. He is smart, gifted, thoughtful and a highly respected voice in the struggle to make high-quality health care affordable for every American.”

It went on to say that “Bernard has focused on public health and preventive care, rather than just treating disease, seeking to provide high-quality, affordable, accessible health care to all of its members. And from his position of considerable influence, he has brought an often overlooked aspect of medicine to the forefront: mental and emotional health.”

The organization’s annual report showed almost eighty billion dollars in revenue for 2018 and that it serviced over twelve million members.

“While the health care industry experienced considerable changes in 2018, we continued making great progress on delivering high-quality, affordable and accessible care and coverage to more people,” it quoted Tyson as saying. “Our solid membership growth and financial performance were consistent with our plan.”

As reported by Reuters, Tyson’s death has had an impact on a labor dispute that Kaiser was confronting, with a planned five day strike by members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers being postponed.

“Our members dedicate their lives to helping people through tragedy and trauma, and they understood that a strike would not be appropriate during this period of mourning and reflection,” union president Sal Rosselli said in a statement.

Kaiser Permanente released a statement shortly after Tyson’s passing.

“On behalf of our Board of Directors, employees and physicians, we extend our deepest sympathies to Bernard’s family during this very difficult time.”

“An outstanding leader, visionary and champion for high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans, Bernard was a tireless advocate for Kaiser Permanente, our members and the communities we serve. Most importantly, Bernard was a devoted husband, father and friend. We all will miss his tremendous presence in our lives.”

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