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CENTRAL COAST, CA – December 30, 2020 – After nearly 38 years of dedicated service, Chuck Cova’s tenure at Marian Regional Medical Center and as Dignity Health Central Coast Division President and CEO will come to an end. Under Chuck’s leadership, Dignity Health’s provision and access for health care services throughout the Central Coast was transformed into the most robust and successful health care delivery system in northern Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. Through Chuck’s leadership, the Central Coast Division, including the Ventura market has seen tremendous growth and expansion with significant physician recruitment efforts, the development of clinical services, and key alliances, acquisitions and partnerships.
During Chuck’s tenure, the Central Coast hospitals, long-term care facilities, acute rehab centers and physician clinics have consistently ranked among the top divisions for Dignity Health and CommonSpirit Health for quality, safety, and patient experience, with national recognition for many clinical and safety results. The Central Coast Division also consistently ranked as one of the top divisions for overall financial performance.
Through Chuck’s leadership, Marian Regional Medical Center was transformed from a small community hospital into an award-winning, nationally recognized, regional medical center with the development of significant clinical services and alignments including: the heart program, cancer care, maternal-child health including neonatology, interventional/endovascular services, stroke certification, and trauma services.
In 2004, as the President and CEO of Marian Regional Medical Center, working collaboratively with the Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo communities and physicians, Chuck led the acquisition of French Hospital Medical Center and Arroyo Grande Community Hospital into then Catholic Healthcare West (now Dignity Health). Chuck led both hospitals out of bankruptcy into thriving, successful hospitals, re-establishing the cardiac program and developing the maternal-child health program at French Hospital Medical Center, and opening the Acute Rehabilitation Center at Arroyo Grande Community Hospital. Chuck was responsible for establishing Community Boards, and hiring and developing the leadership teams at both hospitals.
Under Chuck’s direction, the Santa Maria community saw a longstanding goal become a reality in 2012 with the construction and opening of Marian’s new, $218 million, state-of-the-art, 191-bed hospital which includes private patient rooms, a 21-bed NICU, and an expanded emergency department. Chuck provided leadership and support for the Marian Foundation Cornerstone Campaign fundraising and strategy efforts for the new hospital construction. Due to his inspired support, the Cornerstone Campaign exceeded the $15 million goal and raised $17.5 million for the new hospital expansion—the largest capital campaign amount raised to-date in the Santa Maria community.
Supporting the visionary leadership of Robert Dichmann, MD, Chuck was instrumental in the planning and development of Mission Hope Cancer Center, the Central Coast’s first fully integrated cancer center. As one of only three centers accredited as a comprehensive community cancer program between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Mission Hope Cancer Center remains a beacon of clinical excellence and hope for patients and families experiencing a journey with cancer.
Chuck led the development and expansion of Pacific Central Coast Health Centers (PCCHC), throughout the Central Coast. Starting with only two primary care clinics and one physician, PCCHC has experienced significant growth and is now comprised of more than 45 health centers and 190 physicians and advanced practice providers, offering 18 primary care and specialty services and five Urgent Care Centers throughout the Central Coast.
With his record of success, the Central Coast Service Area expanded to include St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo and St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard in 2014. After taking on two additional hospitals and a small medical group into the Central Coast Division, Chuck successfully implemented a strategic growth and an organizational restructuring turnaround plan, significantly improving the operational and financial performance of both hospitals and the Ventura market. Chuck provided leadership to enhance the quality, safety, and patient experience results at both hospitals. In addition, Chuck directed the $80 million patient tower expansion project for St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital, which boasts a new 71,000 square-foot facility, the $30 million modernization plan at St. John’s Regional Medical Center, and the expansion of the Dignity Health Medical Foundation from 11 physicians to 54 primary care and specialty physicians, expanding to 17 sites during the past five years.
With a passion for elevating the level of health care services for all local community members, throughout his tenure, Chuck is credited with the strategic vision for acquiring world-class medical equipment and technology, including the O-Arm and Stealth Neuroscience Surgical Navigation System, the innovative da Vinci Xi Surgical Robotic System, advanced cardiac imaging, advanced CT, PET CT, and MRI imaging services, 4D Ultrasound, and 3D Digital Breast with Tomosynthesis.
One of the highlights of Chuck’s career was his participation and leadership in a collaborative initiative to establish the Registered Nurse Program at Allan Hancock College, allowing students to obtain Nursing Detheir local communities, effectively reducing the nursing shortage on the Central Coast. Chuck was also instrumental in the development of the Family Medicine and OB-GYN Residency Programs at Marian.
Significant Dignity Health Central Coast Division alliances and partnerships during Chuck’s tenure include: the Physicians’ Choice IPA, which aligned the Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo communities, the acquisitions and partnerships with Coastal Surgical Institute, Plaza Surgery Center and Templeton Surgery Center, Kindred Healthcare, Cencal Health, Gold Coast Health Plan, the academic affiliations with California Polytechnic University, Allan Hancock College, Cuesta College, USC, Western University, and most recently, the new master affiliation agreement with Stanford; all of these key alliances and partnerships proving greater access and care for our patients and communities.
This past year, Chuck’s leadership of the organization throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been essential as he worked diligently with the Dignity Health leadership teams, nurses, caregivers, support team members, and physicians to keep our communities and patients safe.
During Chuck’s nearly 38-year tenure, he served with the highest integrity and continues to embody the core values of our health care ministry. There is no question that Chuck has been instrumental in bringing technological and clinical advancements to the Central Coast and his legacy of being a tireless community health care advocate is unmatched. We wish Chuck and his family the very best and we will always remain grateful for his many years of unparalleled dedication to advancing health care throughout our local communities.
[PHOTOS: Upper-Chuck Cova speaking at the Marian Regional Medical Center grand opening dedication; Lower-Marian Regional Medical Center groundbreaking]
About Dignity Health Central Coast
Dignity Health Central Coast is comprised of five award-winning hospitals, all recognized for their quality of care, safety and service, primary care offices, premier ambulatory surgery centers, technologically advanced imaging centers, outpatient services, and comprehensive home health services. Hospitals in the Dignity Health Central Coast region include Arroyo Grande Community Hospital in Arroyo Grande, French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo, and St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard. Each hospital is supported by an active philanthropic Foundation to provide additional funding to support new programs and services, as well as to advance the community’s access to health care. For more information, visit dignityhealth.org/centralcoast.
Sara San Juan