Topeka — Lawmakers on Tuesday honored Irene Cumming for her achievements as president and chief executive officer of Kansas University Hospital.
"You've been a visionary leader," state Sen. Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said as the Senate passed a resolution praising Cumming. "You've had that magic touch."
Cumming is leaving KU Hospital after 11 years to become chief executive officer of the Oak Brook, Ill.-based University HealthSystem Consortium, a group of 97 academic medical centers and their affiliated hospitals.
Cumming was credited by some lawmakers with leading KU Hospital's turnaround from near failure.
"Back in October 1998, the hospital had only 10 days worth of operating cash, no endowment and no tax appropriations," said House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls.
"I had serious doubts that it would be able to turn itself around," Neufeld said. "But I was proven wrong. Under Irene's tremendous leadership, determination and dedication, the KUH has moved from near bankruptcy to become a nationally recognized teaching facility."
In recent months, Cumming has clashed with leaders of the hospital's partner, KU Medical Center, as the medical center sought an affiliation with St. Luke's Hospital.
Cumming has said the affiliation could hurt KU Hospital, an opinion many in the Legislature shared as they have fought to put restrictions in the budget on the proposed affiliation.
Irene Cumming and KU Med
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