January 20, 2020 Cambridge Health Alliance, a nonprofit community health system based in Cambridge that serves Cambridge, Somerville, and Bostons metro-north region, recently announced that Assaad Sayah, who has been serving as interim chief executive officer since June, will be its permanent CEO.
Sayah, who has been with Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) since 2013, succeeds Patrick Wardell, who retired in mid-2019. However, CHA noted that Sayah's appointment as CEO is contingent on contract negotiations.
While CHA ultimately chose an internal candidate for the top job, it had engaged in a national search, which attracted 150 applicants from around the country.
CHA said it gave special attention to candidates with administrative operations expertise, the ability to enhance quality metrics and standards, experience creating effective partnerships with provider and community organizations, and commitment to advocacy for support CHA's role serving the region's underserved.
"Dr. Sayah exceeded our expectations while serving as interim CEO and in his various leadership capacities at CHA," said Joshua Posner, chair of the CHA board of trustees. "Though we were fortunate to have a deep bench of candidates, it was clear to our team that Dr. Sayah was the right fit. He is relentless in his pursuit of excellence and the highest quality of care, passionately committed to our mission, and focused on the transformational change that is needed for CHA to achieve its vision of being the premier academic public health system in the nation."
Before being named CHA's chief medical officer in 2013, he served as the chief of emergency medicine and senior vice president of primary care. He spearheaded primary care growth by more than 50%, expanding CHA's access in underserved communities and integrating primary care and behavioral health services and systems to address social determinants of health.
"CHA is a special place, with a mission-driven team of providers and staff who put the patient first during each encounter," said Dr. Sayah. "I look forward to working together to continue to fulfill that commitment while setting high standards of access, value, equity, and convenience for our patients and innovating ways to grow and deliver care."
Sayah is co-chair of the Cambridge City Manager's Opioid Working Group, established in 2018 to develop recommendations for strengthening the city's response to the opioid epidemic. He continues to serve on the faculty at Harvard Medical School. His research and publications focus on Emergency Department operation and emergency medical services, including design of the EMS system, continuous quality improvement, advanced directives, violence and weapons, disaster planning, and pre-hospital thrombolytics.
Prior to joining CHA, Sayah held leadership roles at several area hospitals, including director of EMS for Brigham and Women's Hospital, associate chief for the Department of Emergency Medicine at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, and chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Caritas Good Samaritan Medical Center.
He received his medical doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and completed his residency in emergency medicine at William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan.
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