After seven years as board chair of Nationwide Children’s Hospital Inc. and Nationwide Children’s Hospital – leading a period of unprecedented growth and success– Abigail Wexner stepped down as chair effective August 24. Wexner completed her second official term in July, 2011, but agreed to remain as chair through the new hospital opening in June, 2012. She will remain a board member of the hospital and board chair of the Center for Family Safety and Healing. Alex Fischer, President and CEO of the Columbus Partnership, assumed the chairmanship during the August 24 board meeting.
Wexner has been a board member of Nationwide Children’s Hospital since 1993. She assumed the role of board chair in 2005, serving two three-year terms and continuing as chair to oversee the completion of the 2012 Master Facilities expansion begun under her direction in 2005.
“Abigail’s passion and visionary leadership have transformed Nationwide Children’s Hospital from a strong regional institution to a nationally renowned leader in pediatric health care and research,” said Nationwide Children’s CEO Steve Allen, MD. “The most visible of her many accomplishments is our new state-of-the-art campus housing world-class care and research, but her abiding legacy is the immeasurable difference her work and dedication have made in the lives of millions of children.”
The many accomplishments Nationwide Children’s Hospital has achieved under Wexner’s leadership and strategic direction include:
- Completion of the nation’s largest pediatric expansion in history. The $783 million master facilities expansion includes a new 12-story hospital building and third research building with more than $1.2 billion in regional economic impact
- Being named to U.S.News & World Report’s America’s Best Hospitals list every year since 2006. Most recently, Nationwide Children’s was ranked at number 7 on the 2012-13 Honor Roll of Best Children’s Hospitals.
- Ranking as a Top 10 Children’s Hospital by Parents magazine.
- Becoming the first freestanding children’s hospital in Ohio to receive the Magnet designation for nursing excellence in 2005, and achieving re-designation in 2009.
- Annual patient volume has grown by more than 50 percent, growing from 659,000 patient visits in 2005, to more than one million patient visits projected in 2012.
- The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is recognized as one of the fastest growing pediatric research institutes in the country, more than doubling the annual amount of external research funding in seven years. World-class physicians and scientists recruited to Nationwide Children’s include preeminent leaders from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Yale and St. Jude’s.
- Signature programs such as Heart and Gastroenterology have gained national prominence, receiving top 5 rankings in the latest U.S.News & World Report lists.
- The Change Their Tomorrow campaign chaired by Ann Wolfe raised $308 million, with Philanthropy 400 ranking Nationwide Children’s as one of the top nonprofits in the United States.
- In 2007, the Nationwide Foundation made a gift of $50 million, at the time one of the largest philanthropic gifts ever from a corporate foundation in the U.S. and also one of the top five largest single gifts ever given to a children’s hospital nationally or internationally. In recognition of this transformational gift, the hospital was renamed Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
- Strengthening the central Ohio’s community’s response to family violence through the successful merging of the Center for Child and Family Advocacy with the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence to create new Center for Family Safety and Healing.
- Building new community partnerships to transform the neighborhood surrounding Nationwide Children’s main campus, including establishing the Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy Families initiative.
- Established America’s largest pediatric accountable care organization. Partners for Kids now serves around 300,000 children covered by Medicaid throughout Ohio.
- Attained unprecedented levels of patient safety and quality improvement as a result of Nationwide Children’s Zero Hero initiative launched in 2009. With a goal of achieving zero preventable harm by 2013, it is the first pediatric hospital in the country to set this ambitious goal. Nationwide Children’s is also taking a leadership role in regional and national children’s hospitals quality work through the Ohio Children’s Hospitals Association and the Children’s Hospitals Association.
“It has been my greatest honor, privilege and pleasure to lead the boards of Nationwide Children’s for the last seven years, and I am enormously proud of the unprecedented progress we have been able to make together,” said Abigail Wexner. “Since day one, my focus has been to fulfill a promise to this community – that the children of Central Ohio receive the very best care available anywhere in the world right here at home. The incredible staff, hospital leaders, patient families and my board colleagues have all been energized and united in this pursuit for excellence. Thanks to them, as I hand over my role to Alex, he is taking the helm of one of the finest children’s hospitals in the country, poised to achieve even greater results.”
Alex Fischer has served on the board of Nationwide Children’s Hospital since 2011. As President and CEO of the Columbus Partnership, he leads a group of Columbus’ top business executives focused on improving the economic and cultural base of the city. The Partnership is helping to lead the Columbus 2020 economic development effort which is a collaboration of regional economic development organizations.
Fischer was previously Senior Vice President for Business and Economic Development for the Battelle Memorial Institute and served on the company’s Executive Committee and as a Corporate Officer. He also served as the Director of Technology Transfer and Economic Development at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Deputy Governor and Chief of Staff to Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist and Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
“Alex is a thoughtful and insightful board member and we are looking forward to his contributions as board chair,” said Steve Allen. “The opening of our new facilities and the momentum surrounding our growth and national reputation make this a pivotal time for us. Alex’s business and scientific experience make him highly qualified to lead our board through the development of the next strategic plan for Nationwide Children’s.”
“Abigail Wexner is a tireless champion for children and it has been an honor and an education to serve and learn under her leadership,” said Alex Fischer. “I am excited to continue the board’s work and momentum and chart the course for Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s continued leadership role in pediatric care, research and community engagement.”
Alex Fischer, board chair of Nationwide Children's Hospital