Dignity Health Central Coast, the biggest hospital network in the tri-county region, is becoming CommonSpirit Health—and much about the hospital chain is changing, starting at the top.
On Dec. 30, Dignity Health Central Coast CEO and President Chuck Cova announced his retirement. As he steps down, the nonprofit hospital chain is restructuring by expanding the geographic territory and the number of locations under the new division, CommonSpirit Health, which will oversee former Dignity Health hospitals in Southern California.
The division includes hospitals from Ventura to San Luis Obispo counties, as well as those in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties and in Clark County, Nevada. There will be 21 facilities in the division, responsible for $6 billion in revenue, and the new division will be the largest in the company. In the Tri-Counties, the division includes five former Dignity Health Central Coast hospitals, in Camarillo, Oxnard, Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo.
Heading the new division is Julie Sprengel, who was named president of the Southwest Division for CommonSpirit Health in 2019. Sprengel spent more than 20 years as an emergency room nurse, and helped open the Los Angeles Surge Hospital in the first-ever public-private partnership of its kind between Dignity Health, Kaiser Permanente and Los Angeles County. She also served as CEO while it was operating.
“I’m looking forward to learning all I can about our diverse markets and working with our incredibly dedicated teams across Southern California to expand access to affordable, high quality health care,” Sprengel said in a Jan. 4 news release. “Now, more than ever, it’s essential to reassure our communities that we are here for them.”
CommonSpirit Health was formed in 2019 with the merger of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health, though the Central Coast Division did not adopt the new name until now. It is the nation’s largest Catholic hospital network, with 142 hospitals.