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Chris Van Gorder

Headshot of Chris Van Gorder

Chris Van Gorder, FACHE

President and Chief Executive Officer

As president and CEO of Scripps Health since 2000, Chris Van Gorder has been instrumental in positioning Scripps among the nation’s foremost health care institutions. Now he is leading the restructure of the $3.1 billion, integrated health system to align with the new landscape of health care reform. 

Board certified in health care management and an American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) Fellow, he also served as 2010 chairman of the association – an international professional society of more than 40,000 health care executives who lead hospitals, health care systems and other health care organizations.


At Scripps Health, Van Gorder oversees all functions of the integrated health system. More than 15,000 employees and 3,000 affiliated physicians provide care at Scripps, which has made the Fortune magazine “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for 10 consecutive years. On the quality front, Scripps has been named to both the U.S. News Best Hospitals list and the Truven Health Analytics 100 Top Hospitals list for several years running.


Named CEO shortly after his arrival at Scripps in 1999, the organization was losing $15 million a year, and employee and physician confidence had hit bottom. Van Gorder responded with a transparent, co-management style, configured an award-winning executive team, streamlined business operations and focused on internal efficiencies, physician relations and workplace culture – leading to a landmark turnaround. In 2008, Van Gorder and the executive team were named the Top Leadership Team in Health Care for large health systems by HealthLeaders magazine. And in 2016, Modern Healthcare for the eighth time named Van Gorder one of the nation’s “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare.”


Scripps now is focused on regional growth and expansion. The organization’s $2 billion plan for the San Diego region saw it double its ambulatory locations and expand its hospital campuses. New growth includes a radiation therapy center (2012), the Scripps Proton Therapy Center (2014), the Prebys Cardiovascular Institute (2015), the Leichtag Foundation Critical Care Pavilion (2015), the John R. Anderson V Medical Pavilion (2016), and the Barbey Family Emergency and Trauma Center (2016). Additionally, in 2016 Scripps and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center announced a partnership to create the Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center, part of a global collaborative of hospitals and health care systems dedicated to ending cancer globally.


Van Gorder’s rise to health care executive has been unconventional. His journey began as a hospital patient, when as a police officer he was critically injured during a family dispute call. After a lengthy recovery and starting a new career in hospital security, Van Gorder continued his education in health care management and rose to levels of increased responsibility.


Van Gorder received his master’s degree in public administration/health services administration at the University of Southern California, completed the Wharton CEO Program at the University of Pennsylvania and earned his bachelor’s degree from California State University, Los Angeles. He continues to serve the public as a reserve assistant sheriff in the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, in charge of the Law Enforcement and Search and Rescue Reserves. He also is a licensed emergency medical technician (EMT) and an instructor for the American Red Cross.


In October 2010, Van Gorder announced a new direction for Scripps Health. In anticipation of dramatic change in health care, he “turned the organization on its side,” creating a horizontally matrixed management structure to identify and significantly reduce unnecessary variation in patient care and health care operations. The approach led to more than $400 million in performance improvements from 2011 to 2015. Continually striving to reduce cost and inefficiency and bring value to patients, Scripps is now one of a handful of health care systems integrating Lean business concepts as part of its ongoing business strategy, engaging front-line employees and physicians in everyday work and process solutions.

Van Gorder’s first book – The Front-Line Leader: Building a High Performance Organization from the Ground Up – was published in November 2014. He now regularly writes on leadership, corporate culture and health care through his front-line leadership blog – #Frontlineleader – and on Twitter @ChrisDVanGorder.