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Colenda chosen to lead West Virginia United Health System

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The West Virginia United Health System Board of Directors announced June 9 that it has selected Christopher C. Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., to be the next president and CEO of the system.

Colenda currently is chancellor for health sciences at West Virginia University. He'll assume the new role in January 2014.

WVU President James P. Clements, chairman of the WVUHS Board, said Colenda is uniquely suited for the role of health system CEO.

"Dr. Colenda has been a practitioner, a faculty chair, a dean, a vice president for clinical affairs, and currently a chancellor responsible for five colleges and numerous allied health programs and clinical operations," Clements said. "I am pleased he will continue to serve West Virginia and the healthcare system."

Colenda has been chancellor since 2009. Under his leadership, the School of Public Health was created, as was the NIH-funded West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Colenda led the efforts to unite the faculty medical practice and hospitals in a joint operating agreement to form WVU Healthcare. His leadership has also re-energized positive and collaborative relationships between Health Sciences and the university community.

"I am honored to take this position; it's a great opportunity to lead the system into the future," Colenda said. "This is a unique institution that has the potential to transform the lives of tens of thousands of West Virginians by combining the strength of our community hospitals throughout the state with the resources at our flagship academic medical center, Ruby Memorial Hospital, in Morgantown."

Colenda will be only the third person at the helm of WVUHS since it was founded in 1996. He will succeed J. Thomas Jones, president and CEO since 2002, who announced earlier this year that he would retire at the end of 2013.

"We are extremely appreciative of the accomplishments the system has achieved under Tom's leadership," Clements said.

The nonprofit West Virginia United Health System is the largest healthcare network in the state, employing nearly 12,000 people and caring for nearly one-quarter of all hospital patients in West Virginia. It includes WVU Hospitals' Ruby Memorial in Morgantown, Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg and Jefferson Medical Center in Ranson; United Hospital Center in Clarksburg; and Camden Clark Medical Center operated on two hospital campuses in Parkersburg. The system also includes United Physicians Care and the Health Partners Network.

Clements said a search for Colenda's successor at Health Sciences will be announced in the near future.