Vivent Health’s president and CEO has resigned from his position after being placed on administrative leave last month. Michael Gifford worked for the Milwaukee-based HIV/AIDS health care organization, formerly known as AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, for 24 years, the last decade as its president and CEO. On Monday, Vivent announced that Brandon Hill, who washired in July as executive vice president and chief operating officer, has been named interim CEO following Gifford’s departure. Vivent said Gifford is “stepping back from the work world to recharge and consider new opportunities” in its announcement. Employees learned in late August that Gifford had been placed on leave. In an email obtained by BizTimes that was sent to employees on Aug. 26, board chairman Dan Kaplan said the board received three complaints earlier that month involving Gifford’s interactions with employees. It did not specify when the alleged incidents that prompted the complaints occurred. Gifford couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Vivent’s board retained an independent third party to review the concerns raised by employees shortly after receiving them, Kaplan said in the email. Kaplan, a partner and litigation attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP, also invited employees to share information and concerns confidentially through an employee feedback management platform. Vivent is initiating a national search, led by Kaplan, for its new president and CEO, according to the organization’s announcement on Monday. “After 30 years of helping to lead the fight against HIV nationally, it’s time to step back,” Gifford said in the announcement. “I look forward to Vivent Health’s ongoing success." The Vivent brand emerged in early 2020 as the result of the mergers of AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, Rocky Mountain CARES and St. Louis Effort for AIDS. That same year, the organization also acquired AIDS Services of Austin. Vivent, now the second-largest HIV/AIDS health care provider in the country, continues to be headquartered in Milwaukee. It operates 14 locations across Wisconsin and in Austin, Denver, St. Louis and Kansas City. In 2021, it reported serving just under 13,400 patients. Vivent most recently received a score of 100 (out of 100) for its finance and accountability from Charity Navigator, which independently assesses and rates nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. That score was based on its 990 filed with the IRS in 2019. Its program expense ratio was about 83%, which reflects the percent of its total expenses it spends on programs and services compared to administrative functions and fundraising, according to Charity Navigator. Gifford is credited on Vivent’s website with helping grow the organization from a $2 million organization to a $185 million one. He received $445,592 in reportable compensation in 2019, and an additional $164,095 in other compensation, according to Vivent’s most recent available IRS filing. “We appreciate Mike's contributions in building Vivent Health into one of the nation’s leading HIV service organizations and for his dedication to the patients and clients we serve," said Kaplan in Monday’s announcement. In July, the organization unveiled plans to relocate its downtown Milwaukee clinic, at 820 N. Plankinton Ave, to a building at 1311 N. Sixth St., in the Hillside neighborhood, just north of the Deer District. The $9 million project would provide Vivent with 33% more space, allowing it to meet increased demand. Gifford at the time of the relocation announcement said the need for HIV services is at “an all-time high.” The organization has been recognized for its “Medical Home Model of Care,” a term used to describe its integrated approach which includes housing programs, legal assistance, food pantry and prevention services, in addition to traditional medical services. Vivent recently reported 95% of its patients have achieved viral suppression, meaning the amount of HIV in their blood is very low, allowing those individuals to live a normal life with a more typical life expectancy. That’s compared to a national average of 88% of HIV/AIDS patients having an undetectable viral load. “The board and I are working with Vivent Health executive leadership to ensure a smooth transition for our patients, our staff, our community partners and all of our important stakeholders, while the board conducts a thorough, equity-informed search for the next Vivent Health president and chief executive officer,” Kaplan said in Monday’s announcement.
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