Dr. Benjamin Schwartz will steer the former Beaumont Health.
For decades, thousands of Metro Detroiters, including many in the Jewish community, have received medical care from Beaumont physicians and nurses at one of its local hospitals and outpatient facilities. Last year, Beaumont Health, a nonprofit corporation, merged with Spectrum Health — a large nonprofit health system headquartered in Grand Rapids — to become the BHSH System.
Beaumont Health was renamed BHSH Beaumont Health, encompassing eight hospitals, more than 150 outpatient locations, 33,000 employees, and 5,000 physicians in eight Detroit-area communities, based on year-end 2022 data. In June 2022, Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, MD, MHCM, was named president of BHSH Beaumont Health. Last October, the BHSH Health System was renamed Corewell Health.
Schwartz has extensive experience with large health systems as he served previously as senior vice president of Northwell Health, the largest health system in New York with 83,000 employees and 21 hospitals in New York City, Long Island and Westchester. In addition to their large size, both systems have a “common focus on professional development of physician leaders,” Schwartz says.
Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO of the BHSH Health System, says, “In the search for the new president of BHSH Beaumont Health, we were looking for a leader with the proven ability to drive excellence, a strong developer of teams and culture, a dynamic communicator, and a strategic and systems thinker.” Schwartz is the first physician to serve as president.
Schwartz was pleased at his positive reception from physicians and others at Corewell Health. He is still meeting with community leaders and notes that several local rabbis have reached out to him. “The kindness of the Jewish community here is wonderful,” he says.
One rabbi contacted him for help with outdoor lighting that could remain on during the Sabbath so that patients’ family members staying at a nearby short-term residence could safely walk from there to the Corewell Hospital in Royal Oak. “We have to be able to accept each community with its own customs and needs,” Schwartz says.
As the president of Corewell Health in Southeast Michigan, Schwartz will focus on administrative leadership rather than teaching or medical practice, both of which have been part of his career previously. However, he holds the title of professor of obstetrics and gynecology at William Beaumont Oakland University Medical School and recently spoke about the social determinants of health at the annual “White Coat” day for new medical students.
The newly combined Corewell Health provides care for residents of Western, Southwestern and Southeastern Michigan with 22 hospitals, more than 11,500 physicians and advanced practice providers, 15,000 nurses and 64,000 employees.
Its three regions include Corewell Health in West Michigan (formerly Spectrum West), Corewell in Southwest Michigan (formerly Spectrum Lakeland) and Corewell Health in Southeast Michigan (formerly Beaumont Health).
Mark Davidoff, a business and civic leader in the Jewish and general communities, is a member of Corewell Health System’s Board of Directors. He views the merger as “extraordinarily important in Michigan — as a way of bringing together east and west and promoting economic development.”
Schwartz sees the new system as an opportunity to bridge resources across the state, increasing opportunities for collaboration among clinicians and researchers. “A rising tide lifts all boats. Our priority is community health,” he explains.
He cites Corewell’s particular strengths in health equity strategy, research in population health and its insurance plans. “We need to make healthcare more accessible, simpler and more affordable.”
He points out that Corewell Health had a positive operating margin last year; only one-third of health systems achieved this.
For Corewell and other health providers, the impact of COVID is not over. While “viral positivity rates are way down, people who worked in hospitals went through an extreme ordeal. We need to focus on burnout and wellness,” Schwartz says.
“We have prioritized being a great place to work. There is competition for the workforce. We offer sign-on bonuses and we have invested $20 million in the Oakland University Nursing School,” he explains.
Davidoff, who is also senior advisor to the Detroit Jewish News Foundation Board, describes Schwartz as “a proven, tremendous leader. He has leaned in to be present and accountable with ears wide open. He has proven to be a mensch.”
Schwartz and his wife, Jenya (See story on page 69), are enjoying their new lives in Birmingham, appreciating that it takes only about “20 minutes to get to everything” in contrast to New York’s sometimes heavy traffic. This makes it easier to enjoy Detroit-area restaurants — a particular interest of the couple.
Also, Schwartz describes himself as a “die-hard Lions fan,” so another advantage of Michigan living is being able to attend games in Detroit.
The couple has a 7-year-old son who is happy with his local school. They haven’t yet decided which local temple or synagogue to join.
About Dr. Benjamin Schwartz
Schwartz completed a bachelor of arts at Dartmouth College and graduated from George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. In addition, he earned a master’s degree in healthcare management from Harvard University.
Schwartz is an associate professor at several medical schools and serves on the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Dallas. He is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology and gynecologic oncology. During his 27-year career, he provided care and served in executive leadership roles with responsibility for hundreds of practices, multiple acute care hospitals and a behavioral health hospital.