Boulder Community Health CEO David Gehant to retire this summer

David Gehant
David Gehant

BOULDER — David P. Gehant, president and chief executive of Boulder Community Health since 1988, announced Friday he will retire at the end of the summer.

Gehant, 61, was the architect of BCH’s evolution from a single hospital into an integrated health network with 2,300 employees and 18 facilities spread across six communities.

The board will name an acting CEO when Gehant leaves. BCH will conduct a national search to find Gehant’s replacement. No timeline has been set for making that selection.

Gehant is retiring to focus on family.

“At this point in my life, my three wonderful grandchildren are my top priority,” Gehant said, in a prepared statement. “Health care is a demanding field. Giving so much attention to BCH has had its impacts on my family. I couldn’t have been successful at BCH without the consistent support of my wife, Marjorie. Now, Marjorie and I have gotten to the stage in life where we want to spend more time with our family.”

“You really can’t overstate Dave’s impact on health care in Boulder,” said real estate developer Lou DellaCava, former chairman of BCH’s board of directors. “Under his leadership, we went from a single hospital to a nationally recognized health system. He is leaving huge shoes to fill.”

A 2014 Consumer Reports study gave BCH the state’s top score in patient safety. That study, published in March 2014, ranked BCH in the top 15 hospitals nationally.

A Minnesota native, Gehant joined Boulder Community Hospital in 1988. During his 27 years at the helm, he pursued a personal vision that unifying local health-care operations would be the key to maintaining a strong independent health-care system.

Gehant’s first major move in that direction was purchasing Boulder Memorial Hospital in 1989 and merging its operations with Boulder Community Hospital. In the BCH system, Boulder Memorial became the Mapleton Center for Rehabilitation.

Gehant began employing local physicians in 1994 in order to improve coordination between doctors and hospitals and maintain strong primary-care services. Today, BCH employs 109 physicians and other providers at clinics in Boulder, Broomfield, Lafayette, Longmont and Superior.

He also oversaw the construction of BCH’s Foothills campus and subsequent move of operations from its campus on Broadway to Foothills.

Gehant’s decision to merge BCH’s Boulder Center for Sports Medicine into a new facility on the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus is the latest example of the integration of services. The new CU Sports Medicine and Performance Center will unite the physicians and therapists of BCSM with physicians affiliated with the CU School of Medicine, creating clinical synergy rather than additional competition.

Boulder Community Health is the only independent system in Boulder County. “Regional and national health systems simply cannot tailor their services to meet local needs. It’s not in their organizational DNA,” Gehant said. “My over-riding goal has been to maintain BCH’s independence.”

BCH’s net worth has increased from $22 million when Gehant started in 1988 to more than $300 million today.

Gehant has been instrumental in launching numerous medical outreach efforts that have sent Boulder physicians, nurses and other professionals on missions to improve medical services in Mexico, Tajikistan, Tanzania and Ukraine.  BCH is currently ramping up plans to send medical teams to Haiti in the near future.

Gehant served three terms as president of the Colorado Hospital Association and has been a board member for numerous Boulder organizations, including the Chamber, Rotary, Foothills United Way and YMCA.