Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center has announced that Chief Operating Officer Steve Davis, MD, will succeed Michael Fisher as president and chief executive officer. Davis, 59, who joined Cincinnati Children’s as COO in September 2015, will become CEO on Nov. 22. Fisher, 62, announced in April that he intended to retire as CEO after leading the healthcare system for 12 years.
Mark Jahnke, chair of the Board of Trustees and leader of a national search to find Fisher’s successor, said the board voted October 4 on the selection of Davis as the next chief executive. Jahnke said the experience of Davis, both as a pediatric critical care physician and as a highly accomplished hospital operations executive, positions Cincinnati Children’s well for the future.
“A strong pool of qualified candidates was considered and in the end, Steve was the clear choice,” Jahnke said. “In addition to medical expertise, Steve brings exceptional problem-solving skills and a collaborative nature to the position of chief executive. He is 100% all in and inspires others with his work ethic, which ensures the best outcomes for the children in our care. Steve is a husband, the father of four, and grandfather of two, and his compassion is evident in how he has helped lead the medical center in recent years. He is a relentless advocate for children and families.”
Cincinnati Children’s is the region’s largest hospital and second largest employer – a $2.6 billion nonprofit with a workforce of more than 16,500. Davis was interim CEO for six months during 2018, and he worked closely with the board at that time. He was also the driving force in construction of the medical center’s largest expansion ever, a Critical Care Building to serve patients with cancer, heart ailments and other complex conditions. Set to open Nov. 6, the $600 million facility also features a state-of-the-art emergency department to serve the residents of Cincinnati and surrounding neighborhoods.
“I came to Cincinnati Children’s because I want to change the world of healthcare, for children in Cincinnati and beyond,” Davis said. “I envision a world where all children can reach their full potential, where racial and economic disparities have been eliminated, and where the ZIP code you were born in doesn’t shorten your life expectancy or quality of life. At Cincinnati Children’s, our people have the expertise, dedication, and heart to transform child health,” Davis added. “Our clinical excellence, focus on safety and improvement, and deep research experience is unmatched. Our collaborative spirit provides the space for each of us to learn, grow, and thrive. It is a remarkable organization, and I am proud to work here.”
Liza Smitherman, a vice chair of the board of trustees at Cincinnati Children’s and a member of the search committee that recommended Davis, said: “We were looking for someone bold who could take us to the next level, and Steve Davis is that person. He is passionate about improving children’s health and the healthcare system. Because of the work he’s already done leading the Critical Care Building project and advocating for the team, he can hit the ground running and that will have a tremendous impact.”
Fisher joined the medical center as chief executive in January 2010 and is the longest-serving CEO among local health systems. “I’m grateful to have had the privilege of leading the incredible team at Cincinnati Children’s, whose care for kids and commitment to scientific research and education has made this one of the best medical centers in the world,” Fisher said. “I love Cincinnati Children’s, and so I’m extremely pleased that the board has selected an exceptional leader in Dr. Steve Davis as the next CEO. Having worked closely with Steve for the last six years, I can tell you that he has high integrity, an innovative spirit, and a deep caring for patients and his fellow employees.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Davis has played a key role in coordinating the response of local hospitals. As co-chair of the Regional COVID-19 Steering Committee and co-chair of the Hamilton County Test and Protect COVID-19 Project, Davis helped create policies and procedures designed to ensure the best care for patients and to safeguard hospital workers.
Also under his leadership, Cincinnati Children’s ramped up telehealth during the pandemic. Many clinical areas now offer telehealth appointments via the CincyKids Health Connect app for patients who don’t require an in-person visit, providing easier access to care for more kids.
Before joining Cincinnati Children’s, Davis was COO of Hillcrest Hospital, a 500-bed facility with 2,500 employees that is part of the Cleveland Clinic system. Davis served the Cleveland Clinic in a variety of key positions from 1996 to 2015, including as: program director for the Pediatric Critical Care Fellowship Program; medical director of Pediatric Respiratory Therapy; chair of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine; vice chair of pediatrics; and executive director of critical care across the Cleveland Clinic health system.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in 1984, Davis earned a medical degree in 1989 from the University of Vermont. In 2012, Davis received a master’s in medical management from the Heinz College of Business at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he serves on the faculty and teaches leadership development. He earned a master’s in strategic leadership from Michigan State University in 2020. Davis was a resident at Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital 1989-92 and chief resident 1992-93. He completed a fellowship in pediatric critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1996.