Children's Health

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital President Announces Retirement

Dr. Bob Connors plans departure January 3, 2020

September 17, 2019

Grand Rapids, Mich., September 17, 2018 – Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital President Bob Connors, MD, has announced his plans to retire on January 3, 2020.

Connors has served as president of the children’s hospital for 14 years. He moved to the Grand Rapids community in 1990 as a pediatric surgeon and established Pediatric Surgeons of West Michigan. During his time in the community, he has operated on thousands of young patients.

“I am personally grateful for the service Bob has provided the children and families of West Michigan and beyond,” said Gwen Sandefur, chief care transformation officer, Spectrum Health, and president, Spectrum Health Hospital Group. “Under his leadership, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital has grown to become the second largest children’s hospital in the state. His genuine care and concern for children and families drove Bob to establish new services, partner with other organizations to expand the hospital’s reach and push expectations for clinical excellence. It has been an honor and privilege to work together.”

During the past 28 years, Connors has served as director of pediatric surgery, director of pediatric trauma services and director surgery services. He initiated the hospital’s pediatric trauma program and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation program.

As part of his goal to create the safest children’s hospital anywhere, Connors launched an innovative “Call me Bob” campaign several years ago. His thought was that if colleagues drop titles when communicating, they communicate better and improve teamwork, thus keeping patients safe.

Connors’ passion for safety, quality and improvement has been widely recognized. He received the Michigan Hospital Association Keystone Center Patient Safety & Quality Leadership Award in 2015. He also was recognized in 2013 as one of the 50 Experts Leading the Field of Patient Safety by Becker’s Hospital Review. He was honored as the recipient of the National Patient Safety Foundation Chairman’s Medal in 2011.

Partnerships and outreach have been an underpinning to his career and the children hospital’s growth. Connors expanded the hospital’s reach to Traverse City, Kalamazoo and Lansing. He also grew Partners in Children’s Health, a network of Michigan hospitals that connect with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital physicians and teams for specialty expertise. His innovative CarePartners Program coordinates care for regional children with complex medical conditions.

Connors earned his medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor. He completed his surgical residency at University of Michigan Hospital and performed a pediatric surgery residency at Children’s Hospital National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., after serving in the U.S. Army Medical Corp. He is a clinical professor in surgery and pediatrics at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. He serves on the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation Board, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Committee, Spectrum Health Board of Trustees, Children’s Hospital Association Quality and Safety Committee as well as Michigan Hospital Association Keystone Center board.

A national search will begin in the coming weeks to identify a successor who will continue the legacy of excellence and compassion established during Connors’ tenure. A public announcement will be made when a new leader is identified.

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is a 234-bed regional referral center and teaching hospital. It offers advanced pediatric specialty care with more than 300 pediatric physicians who practice in more than 50 pediatric specialties and programs. Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is Michigan’s largest neonatal center. More information is available online.

Spectrum Health System, a not-for-profit, integrated health system, is committed to improving the health and wellness of our communities. We live our mission every day with 31,000 compassionate professionals, 4,500 medical staff experts, 3,300 committed volunteers and a health plan serving 1 million members. Our talented physicians and caregivers are privileged to offer a full continuum of care and wellness services to our communities through 14 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, 155 ambulatory sites and telehealth offerings. We pursue health care solutions for today and tomorrow that diversify our offerings. Locally-governed and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, our health system provided $585 million in community benefit in fiscal year 2019. Thanks to the generosity of our communities, we received $30 million in philanthropy in the most recent fiscal year to support research, academics, innovation and clinical care. Spectrum Health has been recognized as one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM.

Rick Jensen
Media Relations
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