CHI Health St. Elizabeth announced Tuesday it has named a new president.

Derek Vance took over as president of both St. Elizabeth and the Nebraska Heart Hospital on Nov. 14.

Vance previously was the chief executive officer of LewisGale Hospital, a for-profit hospital in Pulaski, Virginia. He also has worked at hospitals in Indiana, Kansas and Utah.

Vance, who has a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University and a master's degree in health administration from The Ohio State University, fills the role vacated by Kim Moore, who retired in July. Dr. Cary Ward, chief medical officer of CHI Health, served as interim president.

“I have felt a great desire to return to a faith-based health system where clinical excellence and spirituality are integrated,” Vance said in a news release. “I believe that is what CHI Health is all about, and I am inspired by the values of reverence, integrity, compassion and excellence.”

Vance takes over a local organization that is still trying to restore its reputation after several years of financial issues, insurance battles and staff cuts.

Earlier this year, Ward told the Journal Star that patient and physician satisfaction scores at St. Elizabeth have slipped over the past few years.

That's likely due in large part to cost-cutting brought on by financial troubles at parent organization Catholic Health Initiatives.

A nine-month contract dispute between CHI Health and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska in 2014 and 2015 also led to a decline in patients.

However, CHI Health and Blue Cross have now reconciled, signing a new three-year contract in January. The organization also announced earlier this year it is partnering with Medica to offer Affordable Care Act-compliant health insurance to people in eastern Nebraska.

Vance said he wants to bring a vision of trust, innovation and excellence to the two hospitals.

“Of all the aspects of my job as a health care leader, the most important is driving a positive culture of high engagement -- it’s also my favorite aspect of the job," Vance said in the news release. "I’ve done this successfully in other organizations and am so excited to have the responsibility for carrying it out at St. Elizabeth and Nebraska Heart.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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