Stanford Report Online

Stanford Report, March 8, 2001
Mitchell, president and chief executive officer of Stanford Hospital and Clinics, to retire

Malinda Mitchell, president and chief executive officer of Stanford Hospital and Clinics, will retire after nearly 26 years of service at the hospital, Eugene Bauer, MD, vice president for the Medical Center and dean of the School of Medicine, announced Thursday.

Mitchell, 57, will step down from her post at the end of March. She will continue for some period of time to aid in the leadership transition while a search for a new CEO is conducted, Bauer said.

“Malinda Mitchell has been a stalwart cornerstone of the hospital management for more than a decade,” Bauer said. “She always brought three values to bear on any of the myriad tough problems that we have faced: What is best for patients? How can we support the academic mission? And is this good management?

“It has been a privilege to work with her,” he added.

Mitchell said she leaves Stanford feeling “very proud that our organization has consistently maintained its excellence in the care that we give to patients and in the support that we provide for teaching and research.”

She said she believes her greatest contribution has been the development of a team-oriented approach to hospital management. For more than a decade, budget planning, quality improvement and service lines (the system for coordinating patient care) have been handled through a multidisciplinary process in which physicians, nurses and staff members from diverse departments have sat down together to make decisions and address problems, she said.

“People don't solve problems in silos by themselves but work together as a team. I think that has been a major cultural change here that has served us well,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell, who has undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing and business, came to Stanford in 1975 as a clinical nursing coordinator in urologic surgery. Over the next decade, she rose through the ranks to become one of the hospital's associate directors of nursing. During that period, she helped steer the hospital through its $175-million modernization project, which was completed in 1984.

She then took time off to obtain a master's degree in business through the Sloan Program at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, an intensive program for high-level managers who don't have a formal business degree. She returned to hospital administration in 1985, when she was appointed director of nursing. By 1989, she had stepped in to assume the post of chief operating officer. As COO, she took on the task of directing the Operations Improvement program, a yearly budget improvement and cost reduction effort that continues to this day.

“I think we have cut costs in a very careful, thoughtful way,” she said. “We have met the challenges of cost reduction by delegating those types of decisions to teams, and I think the participatory process we used has helped us make the right decisions under difficult circumstances.”

Mitchell became interim president and chief executive officer in 1997, serving as the hospital's top administrator during the two-year merger with UC San Francisco. When the merger ended in the spring of 2000, she assumed the job of president and chief executive officer of Stanford Hospital and Clinics.

Mitchell said she will stay on at Stanford until the budget planning process for the current fiscal year is completed in April.

She said she initially had planned to retire earlier, but that she postponed her departure because of pressing issues at the hospital. She has plans to do consulting in health care and that will give her more time to travel and spend time with her family, she said.

Bauer said a search is now in progress for Mitchell's permanent successor.