Living Legends: HOWARD P. KERN
CEO EMERITUS, SENTARA HEALTHCARE, NORFOLK
After 42 years at Sentara, Kern stepped down as the health care system’s leader in September, handing the reins to Dennis Matheis, who was previously president of Sentara Health Plans. Since 2016, Kern oversaw the $11 billion not-for-profit system with more than 1,200 physicians and 30,000-plus other employees staffing 12 hospitals in Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.
A graduate of the State University of New York at Plattsburgh and the Medical College of Virginia, where he earned his master of health administration degree, Kern guided the expansion of Sentara’s Norfolk General Hospital and the 2020 opening of the Sentara Brock Cancer Center. He also led the decision for Sentara not to merge with North Carolina-based Cone Health in 2021 after both systems decided they could better serve their patients separately. Kern signed an agreement last year to create an academic health center with Old Dominion University and Eastern Virginia Medical Center.
Kern serves on the Virginia Chamber’s Blueprint Virginia 2030 Steering Committee, and this year, he was reappointed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin to serve on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates.
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