Robert E. Chason, who has guided UC Davis Medical Center's day-to-day operations for the last eight years, took over as director of hospital and clinics in March after Martha Marsh accepted the CEO position at Stanford Hospital and Clinics.
In his new role, Chason oversees the medical center and serves as chief operating officer for UC Davis Health System. He is well-known for taking a collaborative approach to solving the health-care challenges facing Northern Californians.
To improve access to health care in rural regions of the state, he launched an alliance of community hospitals that enables rural patients to receive specialized medical services without traveling to urban centers. With UC Davis' renowned telemedicine program as a centerpiece, the community hospital network has improved access to intensive care for children in Redding; enabled women in Colusa to deliver their babies close to home; and allowed physicians in Toulumne to access on-line clinical resources.
Chason spearheaded efforts to establish jointly operated cancer centers with Mercy Hospital in Merced and Fremont-Rideout Hospital in Marysville. And he helped bring together the UCSF and UC Davis children's hospitals to form a new pediatric heart center to meet the needs of Northern California children with congenital heart defects.
Using new technology to change the practice of medicine will continue to be a top priority for Chason. Current initiatives include a major clinical information system project that will move the health system to a "filmless" and "paperless" environment; a "tele-interpreting" initiative that improves translation services for non-English speaking patients; and new surgical instrumentation that makes distance surgery a distinct possibility.
"We're creating an environment where health-care professionals develop, evaluate and make the best use of new life-saving technologies," he said. "The practice of medicine will not be the same."