Howard Kern

Howard Kern is President & CEO of Sentara Healthcare, a health system located in Virginia Howard Kern is President & CEO of Sentara Healthcare, a health system located in Virginia Howard Kern is President & CEO of Sentara Healthcare, a health system located in Virginia
President and Chief Executive Officer

Howard P. Kern is President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sentara Healthcare, a not-for-profit integrated health system headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia. Mr. Kern has nearly 40 years of executive management experience spanning hospital, managed health insurance, ambulatory services, and healthcare finance leadership.

Mr. Kern became President & CEO of Sentara Healthcare in March, 2016. He began his career with Sentara in 1980 as an Administrative Resident at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital where he served in numerous positions prior to being named Senior Vice President for the health system in 1995. Mr. Kern was appointed as Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer (COO) in 1998 and was promoted to President & Chief Operating Officer in January, 2003.

Mr. Kern has led numerous strategic initiatives to improve clinical, financial, and operational outcomes at Sentara Healthcare. These initiatives include the following:

  • Emphasizing clinical quality through participation in the world's largest copper clinical trial to address hospital-acquired infections, which resulted in an 83 percent reduction in C. difficile and a 78 percent reduction in multi-drug resistant organisms.
  • Expanding the integrated healthcare system with a growth strategy that resulted in the merger of five acute-care facilities, the creation of a statewide home health network, the merger of three community hospitals, and the creation of a regional operating management structure.
  • Developing system-wide High Performance Design and Clinical Performance Improvement initiatives to drive significant and sustained improvement in clinical care and customer experience.
  • Optima Health participating in the Medicaid Long-Term Services and Supports program to provide care to 214,000 Virginians with complex care needs.
  • Establishing an academic affiliation agreement with Eastern Virginia Medical School and subsequently launching the EVMS-Sentara Healthcare Analytics and Delivery Science Institute.

Under Mr. Kern's leadership, Sentara Healthcare has grown to become one of the five largest employers in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with a net revenue of more than $6.3 billion. The health system has 28,000 employees, 12 acute care hospitals, four regional medical groups, and an extensive network of ambulatory medical centers in Virginia and northeastern North Carolina; in addition, the system operates a health plan division with 508,200 covered lives in three states. In 2018, Sentara Healthcare was named as one of America's Best Large Employers by Forbes and was designated as an IBM Watson Health 15 Top Health System.

Mr. Kern is a recognized expert on hospital leadership topics such as strategic growth strategies, successfully managing mergers and acquisitions, and improving the patient experience. He has been named a leading healthcare executive by Becker's Hospital Review and Forbes, and was ranked 58th in Modern Healthcare's 2018 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare. In addition, Mr. Kern was named one of the 50 Most Influential Virginians by Virginia Business and has appeared on the Inside Business Power list.

Mr. Kern serves on the board or as a member of numerous corporate and community organizations including the Becker's Hospital Review CEO Advisory Board, E3 (Elevate Early Education), Future Hampton Roads, Hampton Roads Business Roundtable, Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance, MDLive, ReInvent Hampton Roads, Richmond/Hampton Roads Collaborative Executive Committee, Virginia Business Higher Education Council, Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Wesleyan University, Vizient and the Wall Street Journal CEO Council.