Ascension Wisconsin’s top exec to leave organization amidst leadership restructuring

Bernie Sherry
Bernie Sherry

Last updated on March 23rd, 2023 at 10:30 pm

Ascension Wisconsin ministry market executive Bernie Sherry will leave later this spring and the organization announced leadership restructuring plans today.

“We want to recognize and thank Bernie Sherry as he transitions out of his leadership role,” St. Louis-based Ascension, the parent organization of Ascension Wisconsin, said in a news release. “A search is underway to identify a new market leader for Ascension Wisconsin. Bernie will work closely with the team to ensure a smooth transition.”

Monica Hilt, who served as chief operating officer; Marcia Lysaght, chief nursing officer; Beth O’Laire, chief HR executive and Caryn Kaufman, communications lead, are also leaving Ascension Wisconsin.

The organization said it is dividing leadership responsibilities for Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Milwaukee and Ozaukee campuses.

Daniel Jackson will serve as interim president and CEO of Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital – Milwaukee Campus. He most recently served as CEO of Detroit Medical Center’s Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit, part of Tenet Healthcare. Duke Walker will also join Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital – Milwaukee Campus serving as interim chief operating officer. He previously served as vice president of operations at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette, Louisiana. A search is underway to identify a new chief nursing officer for Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital – Milwaukee Campus.

At Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital – Ozaukee Campus, John Joyce will continue to serve as president and Marlly Cadavid will serve as chief nursing officer.

“Ascension Wisconsin is restructuring its leadership structure and team to concentrate leadership resources at the facility-level, within key sites of care, to enable increased focus on clinical quality, appropriate staffing, and support of caregivers and associates,” the organization said in a news release.

Ascension is one of the largest private health care systems in the United States. The leadership shakeup comes as the Ascension Wisconsin subsidiary has experienced turmoil recently. A recent Milwaukee Magazine report said dozens of doctors, nurses and surgeons have left Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s hospital in Milwaukee, creating staff shortages that are undermining care at the East Side hospital.

Ascension also recently closed its labor and delivery unit at Ascension St. Francis Hospital on Milwaukee’s south side.

The parent company has also been under fire. A December New York Times report said that Ascension Health has “spent years reducing its staffing levels in an effort to improve profitability, even though the chain is a nonprofit organization with nearly $18 billion in cash reserves.”

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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